Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Quotes from Ramana Maharshi

The following quotes are taken from Talks with Ramana Maharshi, 2001, Inner Directions Publishing, Carlsbad, California. These are the passages that struck me the most when I read Talks, the ones I found particularly illuminating in my spiritual search. I publish them here in the hope that they may benefit others as they have benefited me. Om shanti om! 

Abide as the Self

“There is no greater mystery than the following: Ourselves being the Reality, we seek to gain reality. We think there is something hiding our Reality, and that it must be destroyed before the Reality is gained. That is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your own past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.” (101-2)

“Everyone is the Self by his own experience. Still, he is not aware; he identifies the Self with the body and feels miserable. This is the greatest of all mysteries. One is the Self. Why not abide as the Self and be done with miseries?” (126)

Brahman is the world

“The world is illusory; Brahman alone is real; Brahman is the world.” (ix)

“D. What does Maharshi think of the theory of universal illusion (Maya)?
M. What is Maya? It is only Reality.
D. Is not Maya illusion?
M. Maya is used to signify the manifestations of the Reality. Thus Maya is only Reality.” (13)

“The aspirant (abhyasi) starts with the definition that that which is real exists always; then he eliminates the world as unreal because it is changing. It cannot be real; “not this, not this!” The seeker ultimately reaches the Self and there finds unity as the prevailing note. Then, that which was originally rejected as being unreal is found to be a part of the unity. Being absorbed in the Reality, the world also is Real.” (33)

The world “is unreal if viewed as apart from the Self and real if viewed as the Self”. (408)

Everything exists within you

“The Self does not move. The world moves in it.” (173)

“There are no objects without the subject; that is, the objects do not come and tell you that they are, rather it is you who say that the objects exist… Find out what you are and then you understand what the world is.” (292)

“Owing to the idea “I am the body,” the separate objects are seen as if lying outside. Know that they are all within yourself.” (376)

I Am that I Am

“D. Is there thought in samadhi?
M. There will only be the feeling I Am and no other thoughts.
D. Is not I Am a thought?
M. The egoless “I am” is no thought; it is realization. The significance of “I” is God.” (150)

“Wakefulness passes off, I am; the dream state passes off, I am; the sleep state passes off, I am. They repeat themselves, and yet “I Am” remains.” (160)

“One should not think “I am this – I am not that”. To say “this or that” is wrong. They are limitations. Only “I am” is the truth.” (164)

“To be the Self is the same as seeing the Self.” (251)

“The whole Vedanta is contained in two Biblical statements: “I Am that I Am” and “Be still and know that I am God”.” (255)

“Your duty is to be, and not to be this or that. “I Am that I Am” sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in “Be Still”. What does “stillness” mean? It means: “Destroy yourself.” Because any form or shape is the cause of trouble. Give up the notion that “I am so and so”… Aham aham (“I-I”) is the Self; Aham idam (“I am this”) is the ego.” (276)

Bliss, the self-tasting sugar

“Some contend that the sugar cannot taste its own sweetness and that a taster must taste and enjoy it. Similarly, an individual cannot be the Supreme and enjoy the Bliss of that state; therefore, the individuality must be maintained on the one hand and Godhead on the other so that enjoyment may result! Is God insentient like sugar?” (140)

“Consciousness is the only truth… Its very nature is Bliss. Bliss alone is. There is no enjoyer to enjoy pleasure. Enjoyer and joy – both merge in it.” (159)

“There is happiness at pleasant sights, etc. It is the happiness inherent in the Self. That happiness is not alien and afar. You are diving into the Pure Self on occasions, which you consider pleasurable. That diving reveals the self-existent Bliss. But the association of ideas is responsible for foisting this bliss onto other things or happenings. In fact, it is within you. On these occasions you are plunging into the Self, though unconsciously. If you do so consciously, you call it Realization. I want you to dive consciously into the Self, i.e., into the Heart.” (177)

The body is only a part

“In the beginning one has to be told that he is not the body, because he thinks that he is the body only. Whereas he is the body and all else. The body is only a part.” (126)

“The jnani says, “I am the body”; the ajnani says, “I am the body”; what is the difference?... The ajnani’s “I” is the body only. That is the whole error. The jnani’s “I” includes the body and everything else.” (164)

“To identify oneself with the body and yet to seek happiness is like attempting to cross a river on the back of an alligator.” (298)


“Identification with the body is dvaita. Non-identification is advaita.” (34)

“The fact is that you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure Bliss. Attempts are directed only to remove this ignorance. This ignorance consists in wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge consists in false identification of the Self with the body, the mind, etc. This false identity must go, and what remains only is the Self.” (172)

“D. What is avidya?
M. Ignorance of Self. Who is ignorant of the Self? The self must be ignorant of Self. Are there two selves?” (179)

“People ask: “How did ignorance (avidya) arise at all?” We have to say to them: “Ignorance never arose. It has no real being. That which is, is only vidya (Knowledge).” (206)

“The ego is simply wrong identity of the Self with the non-self, as in the case of a colorless crystal and its colored background. If the background is removed the crystal shines in its original purity. So it is with the Self and the organs of cognition.” (299)

“Inasmuch as you say you are ignorant, you are wise.” (300)

“Illusion is itself illusory. Illusion must be seen by one beyond it.” (342)


“That which is born must die; that which is acquired must be lost. Were you born? You are ever existent. The Self can never be lost.” (14)

“The quest “Who am I?” is the axe with which to cut off the ego.” (102)

“One has only to remove the transitory happenings in order to realize the ever-present beatitude of the Self.” (123)

The Self is “the survivor after suicide” (256).

“How does one know the world to be transitory? Unless something permanent is held, the transitory nature of the world cannot be understood.” (265)


Self-realization “is a matter of fitness of mind” (9).

“The “I” casts off the illusion of “I” and yet remains as “I”. Such is the paradox of Self-realization. The realized do not see any contradiction in it.” (23)

“After realization all intellectual loads are useless burdens and are thrown overboard as jetsam.” (24)

“Self-realization is […] realizing the Self as the limitless spiritual eye” (25).

“The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be.” (95)

“Realization is to get rid of the delusion that you have not realized.” (333)

“The fact of your existence is also your realization.” (375)

“The world may appear or disappear – that is to say, one may be awake or asleep – but the awareness is unaffected. It is one continuous whole over which the three states of waking, dream and sleep pass. Be that awareness even now. That is the Self: that is Realization – there is Peace, there is Happiness.” (389)

“Self-realization is only a euphemism for elimination of ignorance.” (397)

“D. Does not the realized man continue to live just like a non-realized being?
M. Yes, with this difference: that the realized being does not see the world as being apart from the Self. He possesses true knowledge and the internal happiness of being perfect, whereas another person sees the world apart, feels imperfection, and is miserable. But, otherwise, their physical actions are similar.” (385)


Maharshi speaks of “that undifferentiated happy state which is sleepless sleep” (53).

“Deep sleep is only the state of nonduality. Can the difference between the individual and Universal souls persist there? Sleep implies forgetfulness of all differences. This alone constitutes happiness. See how carefully people prepare their beds to gain that happiness. Soft cushions, pillows, and all the rest are meant to induce sound sleep, that is to say an end to wakefulness.” (140)

“Bring about deep sleep even in the waking state and that is realization.” (149)

“One is always only in sleep. The present waking state is no more than a dream.” (161)

“There is full awareness in sleep; there is total ignorance in waking.” (229) To which one of the devotees responded: “So it is an experiment in somnambulism.” Which extracted a laugh from Maharshi.

Samadhi means sleep in the waking state.” (282)

Beyond effort

“For a realized being the Self alone is the Reality, and actions are only phenomenal, not affecting the Self. Even when he acts, he has no sense of being an agent. His actions are involuntary and he remains a witness to them without any attachment.” (8)

“The actions are not mine; therefore, their results cannot be mine, either.” (48) 

The present difficulty is that man thinks he is the doer. But it is a mistake. It is the Higher Power which does everything and man is only a tool. If he accepts that position, he is free from troubles; otherwise he courts them. Take, for instance, the figure in a temple tower, where it is made to appear to bear the burden of the tower on its shoulders. Its posture and look are a picture of great strain while bearing the very heavy burden of the tower. But consider this. The tower is built on the earth and rests on its foundations. The figure (like Atlas bearing the Earth) is a part of the tower, but is made to look as if it bore the tower. Is it not funny? So is the man who takes on himself the sense of doing.” (52)

“There is a state beyond both effort and effortlessness. Until it is realized, effort is necessary.” (96)

“D. My work demands the best part of my time and energy; often, I am too tired to devote myself to Atma-chintana [concentration on the Self].
M. The feeling “I work” is the hindrance. Inquire: “Who works?” Remember: “Who am I?” The work will not bind you. It will go on automatically. Make no effort either to work or to renounce work. Your effort is the bondage. What is bound to happen will happen.” (186)

“Whatever one does after the ego has vanished is akarma (actionless act).” (283)

“A passenger in a train keeps his load on the head by his own folly. Let him put it down; he will find the load reaches the destination just the same. Similarly, let us not pose as doers, but resign ourselves to the guiding Power.” (301)

“When egoity ceases, actions become spontaneous.” (363)

Beyond thought

“The intellect derives light from the Self… How can the reflected and partial light of the intellect envisage the whole and the original Light?” (52)

Atman is realized with mruta manas (dead mind), i.e. mind devoid of thoughts and turned inward. Then the mind sees its own source and becomes That. It is not as the subject perceiving an object.” (72)

“It is as difficult for a jnani to engage in thoughts as it is for an ajnani to be free from them.” (96)

“We seek to reach the goal with the ego, but the goal exists before the ego… take no notice of the ego and its activities but see only the light behind it. The ego is the I-thought. The true “I” is the Self.” (100)

“The Self is the unassociated, pure Reality, in whose light the body, the ego, etc. shine. On stilling all thoughts, the pure consciousness remains.” (128)

On meditation: “It is like giving a piece of chain to an elephant to hold in its trunk. The trunk of the elephant is usually restless. It puts it out in all directions when taken out in the streets. If given a chain to carry, the restlessness is checked. Similarly with the restless mind.” (243)

“What does it matter if the mind is active? It is so only on the substratum of the Self. Hold the Self, even during mental activities.” (312)

“It is like the sun towards the world activities. The Self always remains actionless, whereas thoughts arise and subside.” (369)

“Such inward seeking is the path to be gained by man’s intellect. The intellect itself realizes after continuous practice that it is enabled to function by some Higher Power. By itself, it cannot reach that Power… It is thus plain that the purpose of the intellect is to realize its own dependence upon the Higher Power and its inability to reach the same. So it must annihilate itself before the goal is gained.” (398)

“D. But thinking is necessary even for realization.
M. That thinking is aimed at the elimination of all thinking.” (410)

Shiva and Shakti

“Mind is only the dynamic power (shakti) of the Self… There is no difference between matter and spirit. Modern science admits that all matter is energy. Energy is power of force (shakti). Therefore, all are resolved in Shiva and Shakti, i.e. the Self and the Mind.” (185-6)

“The objects are thus Consciousness and forms. But the ordinary person sees the objects in the universe but not Shiva in these forms. Shiva is the Being assuming these forms and the Consciousness seeing them. That is to say, Shiva is the background underlying both the subject and the object, and again Shiva in Repose and Shiva in Action, or Shiva and Shakti, or the Lord and the Universe. Whatever it is said to be, it is only Consciousness whether in repose or in action.” (349)

“The Self makes the universe what it is by His Shakti, yet He does not Himself act… It is like the sun and the world actions.” (363)

To the movies with Ramana

“Scenes are projected on the screen in a cinema show. But the moving pictures do not affect or alter the screen. The seer pays attention to the pictures and ignores the screen. They cannot remain apart from the screen. Still, its existence is ignored. So also the Self is the screen on which the pictures, namely activities, are going on. Man is aware of the latter, ignoring the former. All the same, he is not apart from the Self... The Self comprises all. It is the screen, the pictures, the seer, the actor, the operator, the light, and all else… Imagine the actor in the picture asking if he could enact a scene without the screen. Such is the case of the man who thinks of his acting apart from the Self.” (228)

"fire burns away everything...
but the screen remains unaffected"
“So many pictures pass over the cinema screen: fire burns away everything, water drenches all, but the screen remains unaffected. The scenes are only phenomena, which pass away leaving the screen as it was. Similarly the world phenomena simply pass before the jnani, leaving him unaffected.” (362)

Renunciation and surrender

“It is enough that one surrenders oneself. Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one’s being. Do not delude yourself by imagining such a source to be some God outside you. One’s source is within oneself. Give yourself up to it.” (140)

“Renunciation is non-identification of the Self with the non-self.” (173)

“The Self is simple renunciation. The Self has renounced all.” (186)

Hints for the seeker

“Telepathy enables one to see and hear from afar. They are all the same, hearing and seeing. Whether one hears from near or far does not make any difference in the hearing. The fundamental factor is the hearer, the subject. Without the hearer or the seer, there can be no hearing or seeing.” (13)

“Silence is unceasing eloquence.” (14)

“Eagerness must be equal to that of a man kept under water trying to rise to the surface for his life.” (24)

“What is it that exists now and troubles you? It is “I”. Get rid of that and be happy.” (33)

“Look, the Self is only Being, not being this or that. It is simple Being. Be – and there is an end of the ignorance.” (38)

“The mind is the rider and the breath the horse. Pranayama is a check on the horse. By that check, the rider is checked.” (46)

“Suffering is the way for realization of God.” (77)

“Become the Subject and there will be no object.” (179)

“God is perfection. His work also is perfection. But you see it as imperfection because of your wrong identification.” (188)

“The Self of the advaitins is the God of the bhaktas.” (190)

“Because you identify yourself with the body you think the Guru, too, to be somebody. You are not the body, nor is the Guru. You are the Self and so is the Guru.” (199)

Samskara is samsara.” (207)

“The body is the Cross. Jesus, the son of man, is the ego or “I-am-the-body” idea. When he is crucified, he is resurrected as the Glorious Self – Jesus, the Son of God! “Give up this life if thou wouldst live.””(298)

“Willpower should be understood to be the strength of mind which makes it capable of meeting success or failure with equanimity. It is not synonymous with certain success. Why should one’s attempts always be attended by success? Success breeds arrogance and man’s spiritual progress is thus arrested. Failure, on the other hand, is beneficial, inasmuch as it opens his eyes to his limitations and prepares him to surrender himself. Self-surrender is synonymous with eternal happiness. Therefore, one should try to gain equipoise of mind under all circumstances. That is willpower.” (310)

“The Supreme Being is unmanifest and the first sign of manifestation is Aham Sphurana (light of “I”).” (408)

The entrance to the Sri Ramana Ashram near Tiruvannamalai in the South-Indian
state of Tamil Nadu. It was here in the years 1935-39 that Ramana conducted the talks
with visitors to the ashram that formed the basis of the book Talks with Ramana Maharshi.

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