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Ramana Maharshi on Atma Vichara

Question : Why should self-enquiry alone be considered the direct means to Jnana?
Ramana Maharshi: Because every kind of sadhana except that of atma-vichara [self-enquiry] presupposes the retention of the mind as the instrument for carrying on the sadhana, and without the mind it cannot be practised. The ego may take different and subtler forms at the different stages of one's practice, but is itself never destroyed.When Janaka exclaimed, `Now I have discovered the thief who has been ruining me all along. He shall be dealt with summarily', the king was really referring to the ego or the mind.

Question : But the thief may well be apprehended by the other sadhanas as well.
Ramana Maharshi: The attempt to destroy the ego or the mind through sedans other than atma-vichara is just like the thief pretending to be a policeman to catch the thief, that is, himself. Atma-vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enable one to realize the pure, undifferentiated being of the Self or the absolute. Having realized the Self, nothing remains to be known, because it is perfect bliss, it is the all.

Question : Why is self-enquiry more direct than other methods?
Ramana Maharshi: Attention to one's own Self, which is ever shining as `I', the one undivided and pure reality, is the only raft with which the individual, who is deluded by thinking `I am the body', can cross the ocean of unending births. Reality is simply the loss of ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity.

Because the ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself. This is the direct method, whereas all other methods are done only by retaining the ego. In those paths there arise so many doubts and the eternal question `Who am I ?' remains to be tackled finally. But in this method the final question is the only one and it is raised from the beginning. No sedans are necessary for engaging in this quest.

There is no greater mystery than this - that being the reality we seek to gain reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.

Source: from David Godman Excellent Book "Be As You are"

Related Ramana Maharshi Articles:
Who am I Technique is direct but Difficult
Ramana Maharshi on Meditation and Investigation
Ramana Maharshi Self Inquiry Meditation Instructions
Is soham (the affirmation `I am he') same as `Who am I
Ramana Maharshi - Only the quest `Who am I?' is necessary

To enquire `Who am I ?' really means finding source of `I'-thought
Ramana Mahashi on Turiya and Samadhi
Ramana Maharshi Free PDF Books Download
Ribhu Gita chapter 26 and 40 verses of Reality
Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi Teachings Blog (opens in a new window)

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