Questions put to Ramana Maharshi:
Question: What is reality?
Ramana’s Answer: The radiance of consciousness-bliss, in the form of one awareness shining equally within and without, is the supreme and blissful primal reality. Its form is silence and it is declared by jnanis (Self-realized ones) to be the final and unobstructable state of true knowledge [jnana].
Q: What is this awareness and how can one obtain and cultivate it?
A: You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you.
Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is, of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.
Q: If the Self is itself aware, why am I not aware of it even now?
A: There is no duality. Your present knowledge is due to the ego and is only relative. Relative knowledge requires a subject and an object, whereas the awareness of the Self is absolute and requires no object.
Remembrance also is similarly relative, requiring an object to be remembered and a subject to remember. When there is no duality, who is to remember whom? The Self is ever-present. Each one wants to know the Self. What kind of help does one require to know oneself? People want to see the Self as something new. But it is eternal and remains the same all along. They desire to see it as a blazing light etc. How can it be so? It is not light, not darkness. It is only as it is. It cannot be defined. The best definition is ‘I am that I am’. The srutis [scriptures] speak of the Self as being the size of one’s thumb, the tip of the hair, an electric spark, vast, subtler than the subtlest, etc. They have no foundation in fact. It is only being, but different from the real and the unreal; it is knowledge, but different from knowledge and ignorance. How can it be defined at all? It is simply being.
Q: When a man realises the Self, what will he see?
A: There is no seeing. Seeing is only being. The state of Self-realisation, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. All that is needed is that you give up your realisation of the not-true as true. All of us are regarding as real that which is not real. We have only to give up this practice on our part. Then we shall realise the Self as the Self; in other words, ‘Be the Self. At one stage you will laugh at yourself for trying to discover the Self which is so self-evident. So, what can we say to this question?
That stage transcends the seer and the seen. There is no seer there to see anything. The seer who is seeing all this now ceases to exist and the Self alone remains.
Q: How to know this by direct experience?
A: If we talk of knowing the Self, there must be two selves, one a knowing self, another the self which is known, and the process of knowing. The state we call realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one has realised, one is that which alone is and which alone has always been. One cannot describe that state. One can only be that. Of course, we loosely talk of Self-realisation, for want of a better term. How to ‘realise’ or make real that which alone is real?
Q: You sometimes say the Self is silence. Why is this?
A: For those who live in Self as the beauty devoid of thought, there is nothing which should be thought of. That which should be adhered to is only the experience of silence, because in that supreme state nothing exists to be attained other than oneself.
source: Excerpts from David Godman’s book “Be As You Are – The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi”
Of the many statements in this excerpt from David Godman’s book “Be As You Are – The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi” that struck a chord in me, this one stands out and has become a sort of mantra since about a week ago:
“For those who live in Self as the beauty devoid of thought, there is nothing which should be thought of.”
The wording “live in Self as the beauty devoid of thought” is so evocative of an entirely new way of perceiving and living. First, the words “live in Self” bring to my awareness the sense of being embedded in this all-encompassing Benevolence that I have been aware of in the background almost continually for the last two decades or more. Now, this awareness shifts more viscerally into the forefront of my daily experience. Secondly, the words “live… as the beauty” was an eye-opener for me. It catalyzed the realization that, when in the Self and devoid of thought, one lives as beauty itself. This is different than living a beautiful life or being a beautiful person, etc. The space of one’s existence, when cleared of the conditioned mind-flow that produces so much conflict, becomes beauty itself. The world around becomes limpid.