Ramana Maharshi on non-doership and self-realisation

Ramana smiling

The following are verses from Guru Vachaka Kovai, one of the most authoritative texts of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings. The text was written by his disciple Muruganar and thereafter thoroughly checked and amended by Ramana. Here are some verses on the root cause of suffering, our notion of being a doer, with some commentary from Sri Sadhu Om, another devotee of Ramana:

466 The pure Bliss of peace will shine within only for those who have lost the sense of doership. For, this foolish sense of doership alone is the poisonous seed that brings forth all evil fruits.

467 Instead of going on, driven by the restless thoughts, performing actions such as ‘I should do this, I should give up that’ as if they were worthy to be done, acting according to how the Grace of God, the Lord of our soul, leads us, is the right form of truly worshipping Him

476 Whether or not one is performing actions, if the delusion of individuality – the ego, ‘I am the doer of actions’ – is completely annihilated, that is the attainment of actionlessness.

Sri Sadhu Om’s Comments: People generally think that the attainment of actionlessness is a state in which one should remain still, giving up all activities. But this is wrong. Sri Bhagavan Ramana proclaims that the loss of doership alone is the right kind of actionlessness, and this alone is nishkamya karma – action done without any desire for result. 

470 The Lord who has fed you today will ever do so well. Therefore, live carefree, placing all your burden at His feet and having no thought of tomorrow or the future.

471 Know well that even performing tapas (spiritual practice) and yoga with the intention ‘I should become an instrument in the hands of the Lord Siva’ is a blemish to complete self-surrender, which is the highest form of being in His service.

Sri Sadhu Om’s Comments: Since even the thought ‘I am an instrument in the Lord’s hand’ is a means by which the ego retains its individuality, it is directly opposed to the spirit of complete self-surrender, the ‘I’-lessness. Are there not many good-natured people who engage themselves in prayers, worship, yoga and such virtuous acts with the aim of achieving power form God and doing good to the world as one divinely commissioned? It is exposed here that even such endeavours are egotistical and hence contrary to self-surrender. 


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