Ramana Maharshi: Self-inquiry (atma vichara) and doership

Ramana Maharshi sitting

“The differences are the result of the sense of doership.

The fruits will be destroyed if the root is destroyed.

So relinquish the sense of doership.

The differences will vanish and the essential reality will reveal itself.

In order to give up the sense of doership one must seek to find out who the doer is.

Inquire within. The sense of doership will vanish.

Vichara (inquiry) is the method.”

Taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 429

Tom’s comments:

The root of suffering is the sense of doership, the sense that there is a doer-entity, the sense that you are a doer. The root is the notion ‘I am a doer’, the fruit is suffering and duality.

Let go of this sense of doership, either by simply relaxing and letting go, or, as suggested above, look and find out what the doer is. Look at your own direct experience: can you see the doer? Can you feel the doer? What does the doer look and feel like exactly? Where does the doer begin and end? How big is the doer? Where is the doer located?

When you look, as you keep on noticing, you may start to realise/see that there is no actual experience of a doer at all. All there are are sensations, feelings and thoughts. Specifically there may be the thought ‘I am the doer’ or ‘this is the doer’, but no actual doer is seen/experienced apart from the thought. The doer is seen to be an imagined entity. The doer (ie. ego) is revealed to be a fiction.

Ramana uses the word ‘reality’ above. What is reality? It’s just what’s left over when the sense of doership is seen through. It’s just what’s left over when false illusions are seen for what they are: false.

4 thoughts on “Ramana Maharshi: Self-inquiry (atma vichara) and doership

  1. One question I am struggling with: who is it that has will and intention? For example, who intended to and went to medical school if not You? Who wills my actions if not Me? Am stumbling on this.


    1. Hi Becky, thanks for your question – it’s often a sticking point…try this (more questions, I know!):

      Who chose the colour of your skin? Who chose your gender? Who chose the size of your brain? Who chose how intelligent you are? Who chose what foods you liked as a baby/toddler? Who chose what foods you liked when you were 8 years old?

      Who blows the wind? Who flows the rivers? Who turns the earth?

      What will your next thought be? Do you know what you will be thinking in 5 minutes from now? 5 hours?

      A thought comes into your mind – did you chose it?

      Can you stop all your bad habits? Are you in control?

      What is this entity you call you?

      also see here, let me know how you get on:


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