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Enquiry on "Who am I?"

Enquiry on 'Who am I?' - Gems from Bhagavan, Akshara Mana Malai, Hymns to Arunachala, Hymns by Ramana Maharshi, Works of Ramana Maharshi, Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Quotes of Ramana Maharshi, Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Videos of Ramana Maharshi, Hin Hindu Spiritual Articles and Videos
FOR ALL THOUGHTS THE SOURCE IS THE `I-thought'. The mind will merge only by Self-enquiry `Who am I?' The thought `Who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts and finally kill itself also. If other thoughts arise, without trying to complete them, one must enquire to whom did this thought arise. What does it matter how many thoughts arise? As each thought arises one must be watchful and ask to whom is this thought occurring. The answer will be `to me'. If you enquire `Who am I?' the mind will return to its source (or where it issued from). The thought which arose will also submerge. As you practise like this more and more, the power of the mind to remain at its source is increased.

By means of a moderate quantity of sattvic (pure) food, which is superior to all other rules and regulations of self discipline, the sattvic or pure quality of the mind will grow and Self-enquiry will be helped.

Though ancient and timeless sense attachments in the shape of vasanas (subtle tendencies) may rise countless like the waves of the sea, they will all be destroyed as dhyana progresses. Without giving any room for doubt whether it would at all be possible to eradicate all those vasanas and be the Self alone, one must take hold ceaselessly of dhyana of the Self. However great a sinner one may be, instead of lamenting `I am a great sinner, how can I make any progress?'

One must completely forget the fact of being a sinner and earnestly pursue meditation of Self. He is then sure to succeed.

If the ego is present, all else will also exist. If it is absent, all else will also vanish. As ego is all this, to enquire what this ego is, is to give up all attachment.

Controlling speech and breath, and diving deep within oneself, as a man dives into water to recover something that has fallen there, one must find out the source whence the ego rises, by means of keen insight.

Enquiry, which constitutes the path of jnana , consists not in orally repeating `I' `I', but in searching by means of a deeply introverted mind wherefrom the `I' springs. To think `I am not this' or `I am that' may be of help in the enquiry, but cannot be the actual enquiry.

When we quest within our mind `Who am I?' and reach the Heart, `I' topples down and immediately another entity will reveal itself proclaiming `I-I'. Even though it also emerges saying `I', it does not connote the ego, but the One Perfect Existence.

If we unceasingly investigate the form of the mind, we find there is no such thing as the mind. This is the direct path open to all.

Thoughts alone constitute the mind, and for all thoughts the base or source is the `I-thought'. `I' is the mind. If we go inward questing for the source of the `I', the `I' topples down. This is the jnana enquiry.

Where the `I' merges, another entity emerges as `I-I' of its own accord. That is the Perfect Self.

There is no use removing doubts. If we clear one doubt another arises and there will be no end of doubts. All doubts will cease only when the doubter and his source have been found. Seek for the source of the doubter, and you find he is really nonexistent. Doubter ceasing, doubts will cease.

Reality being yourself, there is nothing for you to realize.

All regard the unreal as real. What is required is that you give up regarding the unreal as real. The object of all meditation (dhyana ) or japa is only that, to give up all thoughts regarding the non-self, to give up many thoughts and to hold on to one thought. The object of all sadhana is to make the mind one- pointed, to concentrate it on one thought and thus exclude our many thoughts. If we do this, eventually even the one thought will go and the mind will get extinguished in its source.

When we enquire within `Who am I?' the `I' investigated is the ego. It is that which makes vichara (enquiry) also. The Self has no vichara . That which makes the enquiry is the ego. The `I' about which the enquiry is made is also the ego. As the result of the enquiry the ego ceases to exist and only the Self is found to exist.

What is the best way of killing the ego? To each person that way is best which appears easiest or appeals the most. All the ways are equally good, as they lead to the same goal, which is the merging of the ego in the Self. What the bhakta calls surrender, the man who does vichara calls jnana . Both are trying to take the ego back to the source from which it sprang and make it merge there.

To ask the mind to kill itself is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you must turn inward, and see from whence the mind rises and then it will cease to exist.

Breath and mind arise from the same source and when one of them is controlled the other is also controlled. As a matter of fact, in the quest method — which is more correctly `Whence am I?' and not merely `Who am I?' — we are not simply trying to eliminate, saying `We are not the body, nor the senses and so on', to reach what remains as the ultimate reality, but we are trying to find out whence the `I-thought' or the ego arises within us. The method contains within it, though implicitly and not expressly, the watching of the breath. When we watch wherefrom the `I-thought' arises, we are necessarily watching the source of breath also, as the `I-thought' and the breath arise from the same source.

Breath control may serve as an aid but can never by itself lead to the goal. While doing it mechanically, take care to be alert in mind and to remember the `I- thought' and the quest for its source. Then you will find that where the breath sinks, there the `I-thought' arises. They sink and arise together. The `I-thought' will also sink along with the breath.

Simultaneously another luminous and infinite `I-I' will emerge, and it will be continuous and unbroken. That is the goal. It goes by different names — God, Self, Kundalini, Shakti, Consciousness, etc.

Who am I?' is not a mantra. It means that you must find out where in you the `I-thought' arises, which is the source of all other thoughts. But if you find that vichara marga (path of enquiry) is too hard for you, you go on repeating `I-I' and that will lead you to the same goal. There is no harm in using `I' as a mantra. It is the first name of God.

I ask you to see where the `I' arises in your body; but it is not really quite correct to say that the `I' rises from and merges in the Heart on the right side of the chest. The Heart is another name for the Reality, and it is neither inside nor outside the body. There can be no in and out for it, since It alone is. I do not mean by `Heart' any physiological organ, any plexus of nerves or anything like that, but so long as one identifies oneself with the body and thinks he is the body, he is advised to see in the body where the `I-thought' rises and merges again. It must be the Heart at the right side of the chest, since every man of whatever race and religion and in whatever language he may be saying `I', points to the right side of his chest to indicate himself. This is true all over the world. So that must be the place. And by keenly watching the constant emergence of the `I-thought' on waking and its subsiding in sleep, one can see that it is in the Heart on the right side.

First know who you are. This requires no sastras (scripture) or scholarship. This is simple experience. The state of being is now and here all along. You have lost hold of yourself and are asking others for guidance. The purpose of philosophy is to turn the mind inward. "If you know yourself, no evil can come to you. Because you asked me I have told you this" (see Kaivalya Navaneeta). The ego comes up only by holding you (the Self). Hold yourself and the ego will vanish. Until then the sage will be happy saying, `There is', and the ignorant will be asking, `Where?'

Regulation of life, such as getting up at a fixed hour, bathing, doing mantra-japa, etc., all this is for people who do not feel drawn to Self-enquiry, or are not capable of it. But for those who can practise this method all rules and disciplines are unnecessary.

Undoubtedly it is said in some books, that one should go on cultivating one good quality after another and thus prepare for moksha ; but for those who follow the jnana or vichara marga , their sadhana is itself quite enough for acquiring all daivic (divine) qualities; they need not do anything else.

What is Gayatri? It really means `Let me concentrate on That which illumines all'.

Source: Excerpts from 'Gems from Bhagavan' by A. DEVARAJA MUDALIAR

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