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
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
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"