“When the observer becomes the screen only the Self remains.”
Here the first verse of Ramana’s “Forty Verses on Reality” comes to mind:
1. From our perception of the world there follows acceptance of a unique First Principle possessing various powers. Pictures of name and form, the person who sees, the screen on which he sees, and the light by which he sees: he himself is all of these.
Ramana Maharshi – Be As You Are:
Chapter 7 – Surrender
Many of the world’s religious traditions advocate surrender to God as a means of transcending the individual self. Sri Ramana accepted the validity of such an approach and often said that this method was as effective as self-enquiry.
Traditionally the path of surrender is associated with dualistic devotional practices, but such activities were only of secondary importance to Sri Ramana. Instead he stressed that true surrender transcended worshipping God in a subject – object relationship since it could only be successfully accomplished when the one who imagined that he was separate from God had ceased to exist.
To achieve this goal he recommended two distinct practices:
1 Holding on to the ‘I’-thought until the one who imagines that he is separate from God disappears.
2 Completely surrendering all responsibility for one’s life to God or the Self. For such self surrender to be effective one must have no will or desire of one’ own and one must be completely free of the idea that there is an individual person who is capable of acting independently of God.
The first method is clearly self-enquiry masquerading under a different name. Sri Ramana often equated the practices of surrender and enquiry either by saying that they were different names for the same process or that they were the only two effective means by which Self-realization could be achieved. This is quite consistent with his view that any practice which involved awareness of the ‘I’-thought was a valid and direct route to the Self, whereas all practices which didn’t were not.
This insistence on the subjective awareness of ‘I’ as the only means of reaching the Self coloured his attitude towards practices of devotion (bhakti) and worship which are usually associated with surrender to God. He never discouraged his devotees from following such practices, but he pointed out that any relationship with God (devotee, worshipper, servant, etc.) was an illusory one since God alone exists. True devotion, he said, is to remain as one really is, in the state of being in which all ideas about relationships with God have ceased to exist.
The second method, of surrendering responsibility for one’s life to God, is also related to self- enquiry since it aims to eliminate the ‘I’-thought by separating it from the objects and actions that it constantly identifies with.
In following this practice there should be a constant awareness that there is no individual ‘I’ who arts or desires, that only the Self exists and that there is nothing apart from the Self that is capable of acting independently of it. When following this practice, whenever one becomes aware that one is assuming responsibility for thoughts and actions – for example, ‘I want’ or ‘I am doing this’ — one should try to withdraw the mind from its external contacts and fix it in the Self.
This is analogous to the transfer of attention which takes place in self-enquiry when one realises that self-attention has been lost. In both cases the aim is to isolate the ‘I’-thought and make it disappear in its source.
Sri Ramana himself admitted that spontaneous and complete surrender of the ‘I’ by this method was an impossible goal for many people and so he sometimes advised his followers to undertake preliminary exercises which would cultivate their devotion and control their minds. Most of these practices involved thinking of or meditating on God or the Guru either by constantly repeating his name (japa) or by visualising his form.
He told his devotees that if this was done regularly with love and devotion then the mind would become effortlessly absorbed in the object of meditation. Once this has been achieved complete surrender becomes much easier.
The constant awareness of God prevents the mind from identifying with other objects and enhances the conviction that God alone exists. It also produces a reciprocal flow of power or grace from the Self which weakens the hold of the ‘I’-thought and destroys the vasanas (habits of mind, predispositions) which perpetuate and reinforce its existence.
source: Ramana Maharshi – Be As You Are – by David Godman, Chapter 7 Surrender