भावेऽहमः सर्वमिदं विभाति
लयो हमो नैव विभाति किञ्चित् ।
तस्मादहं रुपमिदं समस्तं
तन्मार्गणं सर्वजयाय मार्गः ।।
As long as the Ego exists, the world exists.
As soon as the Ego dies, the world disappears.
To seek that form of Ego is the way to win the obstacles on the path of Self-Enquiry.
Ramana Maharshi was born in South India. He is known as the Awakened One. He was awakened to the reality: 'who am I?' His life is interesting and quite inspiring.
Ramana's father was a farmer. His family was religious, giving ritual offerings to the Gods and visiting temples. Ramana was largely disinterested in school and absent-minded while doing household works. But he had deep inclination towards introspection and self-analysis. He had an unusual ability to sleep soundly. At the age of Seventeen, Ramana went into an altered state of consciousness which had a profound effect on him. At that time, he experienced what he understood to be his own death. In few hours, he came back to life.
He used to have spontaneous flashes of insights perceiving himself as an essence independent of the physical body. In these events, he realized himself to be an eternal entity existing without physical body beyond space and time.
In his early days, he had read a biography of Tamil saints and heard about the sacred mountain "Arunachala" which was another name of Shiva. Somehow he had a sense that his destiny was combined with that mountain. He planned to leave home and go to the Arunachala to live a life of a seeker. At the age of Seventeen, he left for Arunachala, the place which was the focal point of his spiritual ideals.
Once he reached Arunachala, he surrendered to the holy mountain and resolved to live his whole life there. For several years, he practiced meditation in temples and caves, keeping the disciplines and silence and non-attachment and thus pursuing spiritual purification. His reputation as a fully detached hermit attracted learned disciples. They brought him spiritual books. Thus he became conversant with spiritual traditions.
Ramana is famously known for his profound silence and love of solitude. For several years, he refused to speak with anyone. His early disciples had a difficult time speaking with him about their problems and spiritual questions. Later, Ramana ceased his ascetic phase and accepted to live a normal life in an ashrama setting. His disciples built an ashrama at the foot of Arunachala where thousands of disciples used to visit him from all over the world. Ramana used to eat same food with all, sat with the other people during meals and never expected any special treatment. He loved everyone in the ashrama including cows, monkeys, birds, peacocks and squirrels.
Ramana followed the practice of self-inquiry best expressed by the question "Who am I?" He suggested his disciples to ask the same question again and again until the question vanishes and all other thoughts from the mind.
Ramana Maharshi's core teaching is that the "Self" or real "I" is a "non-personal, all-inclusive awareness." In different places Ramana has termed the same as a state of pure consciousness or awareness of the awareness itself. According to him, in this state, one realizes Sat-Chit-Anandameaning into English as "being-consciousness-bliss." It is the state of non-duality, a state of feeling Oneness with everyone, with the whole existence. The Self is the source from which all appearances are manifested.
A disciple seeking spiritual guidance asked twenty-eight questions bearing on Self-inquiry with Ramana. "Who am I?" is the collection of those questions and answers given by Ramana. This booklet presents the system of Self-inquiry meticulously which remove ignorance and help to abide in Self-awareness. Self-inquiry is the constant attention to the awareness of "I" or "I am". In his teaching, Ramana frequently suggested it as the most efficient and direct way of realizing Self-awareness.
Ramana says, the I-thought is the sense of individuality. "I" is the Self (Ahamin Sanskrit); "I am this" or "I am that" is the ego. Ramana suggests, by paying attention to the "I"-thought, inquiring where it comes from, the "I"-thought will disappear and there will be the revelation (Sphurana) of Self-awareness. This is a quickest and effortless meditation leading to the Self-realization. Staying with Self-awareness, theVasanasare gradually destroyed, the mind (Vritti) also comes to rest. With the vanishing of the "I"-thought permanently, Self-realization will be on the way.