This bright clarity that we call Consciousness has no need for enlightenment, for it already knows what it is. In the attempt to give us a sense of what is happening here the ancients use the following image: An iron ball is an inert object. It is placed in the heat of a fire. The heat permeates the iron matter and the ball begins to glow. Similarly, all inert objects in the world, including our own body, are permeated with the shining of Consciousness, or ever-shining Self, and glow with a seeming aliveness. That aliveness is actually the Inner Effulgence that is reflected in all inert objects. Our ignorance (avidya) consists of our accepting this appearance of aliveness as “the body is alive” and simultaneously we identify ourselves with that ‘inert object’ feeling “I am this body”. The energy of pure seeing (Inner Effulgence) is a separate energy from the energy of ‘the seen’ (all objects of perception). Only when I can distinguish between the two more and more continuously does the veil that obscures reality begin to thin.
Keep your mind still. That is enough. You will get spiritual help sitting in this hall if you keep yourself still. The aim of all practices is to give up all practices. When the mind becomes still, the power of the Self will be experienced. The waves of the Self are pervading everywhere. If the mind is in peace, one begins to experience them.
Question: Which is better for me, to gaze at your eyes or your face? Or should I sit with closed eyes and concentrate my mind on a particular thing?
Ramana: Gaze at your own real nature. It is immaterial whether the eyes are open or closed. Everywhere there is only the one, so it is all the same whether you keep your eyes open or closed. If you wish to meditate, do so on the “I” that is within you. It is the Self. Because it has no eyes, there is no need either to open or close the eyes. When you attain Self-knowledge, there will no longer be any ideas about the world. When you are sitting in a room, whether the windows are open or closed, you are the same person, in the same state. In the same way, if you abide in the Reality, it is all the same whether the eyes are open or closed. It matters little whether external activities go on or not.
Question: In my present state, is there sufficient faith, humility and surrender in me? If not, how to make them complete?
Ramana: You are perfect and complete, so abandon the idea of incompleteness. There is nothing to be destroyed. Ahankara, the individual “I”, is not a real thing. It is the mind that makes the effort and the mind is not real. Just as it is not necessary to kill a rope that one imagines to be a snake, so also there is no need to kill the mind. Knowing the form of the mind makes the mind disappear. That which is forever non-existent is already removed.
Question: What books should I read for personal study?
Ramana: The Self is the real book. You can glance anywhere in that book; nobody can take it away from you. Whenever you are free, turn towards the Self. Thereafter you may read whatever you like.
Question: How to uproot the weariness, fear and anxiety that arise during meditation?
Ramana: Find out to whom these questions occur. By conducting this enquiry these things will disappear. These things are impermanent. Do not pay attention to them. When there is knowledge of duality, fear arises. Fear only comes when you think that there are others apart from you. If you direct your mind towards the Self, fear and anxiety will go away. In your present state, when your mind is agitated, if you remove one kind of fear, another will rise up and there will be no end of them. It is a laborious task to pluck the leaves off a tree one by one. The “I” feeling is the root of all thoughts. If you destroy the root, the leaves and branches will wither away. Instead of forming bad habits and taking medicine for them, it is better to see that such bad habits are not formed.
Question: During and after meditation, I get many thoughts about the unhappy people of the world. What will happen to the world?
Ramana: First find out whether there is an “I” in you or not. It is this ego “I” that gets these thoughts and, as a result, you feel weakness. Therefore find out how identification with the body takes place. Body consciousness is the cause of all misery. When you conduct the enquiry into the ego “I”, you will find out its Source and you will be able to remove it. After that there will be no more questions of the type you are asking.
The body itself is a disease. To wish for a long stay of that disease is not the aim of the jnani [one who has realised the Self]. Anyhow, one has to give up identification with the body. Just as the “I am the body” consciousness prevents one from attaining Self-knowledge, in the same way, one who has got the conviction that he is not the body will become liberated even if he doesn’t desire it.
There is the absolute Self from which a spark proceeds as from fire. The spark is called the ego. In the case of an ignorant man it identifies itself with an object simultaneously with its rise. It cannot remain independent of such association with objects.
This association is ajnana or ignorance, whose destruction is the objective of our efforts. If its objectifying tendency is killed it remains pure, and also merges into the source.The wrong identification with the body is dehatmabuddhi (“I-am-the-body” idea).This must go before good results follow.
Between spirit and matter, the self and the body, there is born something which is called the ego-self. Now what you call your Self is this ego-self which is different from the ever-conscious Self and from unconscious matter, but which at the same time partakes of the character of both spirit and matter.
Question: Then when you say “know thyself” you want me to know the ego-self?
Ramana: But the moment the ego-self tries to know itself, it changes its character; it begins to partake less and less of the matter, in which it is absorbed, and more and more of the Consciousness of the Self.