Exposing a false belief & the importance of Self-Enquiry | Sri Ramana Maharshi | Ending the ego

Some say that everything the ‘ego-me’ does simply perpetuates the ego-me, and thus the sense of separation and suffering that comes with the ego-me continues. If this is true, then there is nothing you can do to for ‘liberation to occur’ and for suffering to end. Note that this is a belief. Note that this is a conceptual view. Ask yourself: how do you even know this is true?

In order to know this is true, one would have to try every single practice in the world. It is a bit like saying no action can ever take you to the moon, as no action I’ve done so far has ever taken me to the moon. But it is possible to go to the moon!

Saying everything the ego does simply perpetuates the ego, is a bit like saying everything the body does simply perpetuates the body.

Just as there is a certain action the body can do that ends the body (ie. suicide), there is a certain effort of the ego-me that ends the ego-me (ie. self-enquiry).

Self-enquiry is ego suicide!

This is why Bhagavan Sri Ramana emphasised the need for practice and self-enquiry; see these teachings from Sri Ramana taken from Guru Vachaka Kovai (the second verse quoted summarises my points above, namely that there is a practise the ego can undertake that ends the ego):

385 When with the keen, unceasing quest
Of “Who am I?”
one penetrates
The centre of oneself, the body-bound
Ego fades away, true Being
Rises clear as I, as I,
And puts an end to all diversity,
Illusive as the blueness of the sky.

388 The jiva searching “Who in truth am I?”
Subsides as the true Self without an ‘I’.

[Tom: jiva means the (conceiving of oneself as a) separate body-mind entity. Jiva essentially refers to the ego ie. the false sense of being a body-mind entity]

391 Those who do not dive into the Heart
And there confront the Self in the five sheaths hid
Are only students answering out of books
Clever questions raised by books,
And not true seekers of the Self.

402 Delusive thought now like a cloud
Conceals the boundless bright awareness
Of the Self. Enquiring “Who am I?”
Dispels the darkness and the splendour
Of the sky of Self shines clear.

403 As a ball of iron heated in the fire
Glows like a ball of fire, the jiva
Once impure is now ennobled
By self-enquiry
and acquires
The very nature of the Self.

404 When the suffering fool turns inward,
Enquiring “Who am I?”
the radiant
Truth is seen, confusion cleared,
And silence wells up as the bliss of peace.

405 The jiva’s terrible suffering is
The turbid folly of the mind
Unschooled and ignorant of the Self.
Practise unceasingly within the wise
Enquiry, “Whose is this dire suffering?
Who am I?”

406 By the transmuting touch of daily,
Methodical, untiring self-enquiry
,
The base metal jiva shines forth clear
As Siva, freed from the mental rust,
The demon ego.

407 The jiva, son of God, forgetting
His real Being, cries “Alas” in anguish.
Then when he searches yearning inwards
He by experience knows the glory
Of oneness with the Self, his Father.

Please read the above verses carefully and slowly in order to fully gain their benefit.

Let us therefore first understand the proper technique of self-enquiry, and then let us be inspired and devoted to its practice.

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om

🙏🙏🙏

Ending Suffering & What should be emphasised in the teaching

If place A is ego, duality and suffering, and place B is liberation and the end of suffering, then Self-enquiry is the vehicle that takes you from A to B.

While many teachers and teachings spend much time describing Place A and Place B, ie. Discussing the body, the mind, and the world, the nature of ego, ignorance, and the various mechanisms that create duality and suffering, and also discussing the nature of liberation or self-realization and what happens in liberation, etc, etc…

…we see that Bhagavan Sri Ramana emphasises actually getting onto the vehicle that takes us from one (apparent) shore to the other, namely self-enquiry:

393 One who has wisely chosen the straight path
Of self-enquiry can never go astray;
For like the bright, clear Sun, the Self
Reveals itself direct to whoso
Turns towards it

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai

Let us therefore understand the practise of self-enquiry and let us be blessed with the motivation to undertake it! Know that there is a ‘discipline that leads to permanent freedom’!:

71 How piteous is the spectacle
Of people wandering in the world’s ways
Aimless, frisky like a goat’s beard
And chafing at the discipline
That leads to permanent freedom.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om

🙏🙏🙏

Grace & Liberation | How the ego can use ‘Grace’ as an ego-preservation strategy

For other articles I have written on the role of Grace in liberation please see here.

I have seen that the idea that Liberation is all down to grace is often an ego-preservation strategy and excuse for the mind not to engage with the actual liberating teaching and practice.

Great sages like Sri Ramana always emphasised the need to listen to the Guru’s teaching and do the practice suggested as it is this which leads to liberation. Otherwise suffering continues indefinitely.

Teachings such as ‘no need to practice as all is already one’ and ‘no need to do anything as there is no-one to do anything’ just allow the present ignorance and suffering to continue unabated. These types of teachings give temporary relief at best, with the sense of individuality & suffering reasserting itself as the root ignorance has not been fully destroyed.

Grace is always here. Grace simply means the ever-present unchanging Self. We (the jiva or ego) must turn towards the Self to ‘activate’ Grace. The Self or Grace then does the last part by finally destroying the ego (the illusory sense of individuality), hence it is said ‘Liberation arises through Grace’, but we must turn within towards the Self first.

This is what Bhagavan Sri Ramana said again and again.

Otherwise it is just the ego-mind saying ‘all is one’, etc, etc, whilst the suffering and the sense of duality continues.

‘This’ vs ‘That’ | True vs False teachings | Sri Ramana Maharshi | Yoga Vasistha

The true teaching emphasises the Subject-Self, whereas false teachings* always come back to objects such as the body, the mind, feelings, emotions, the world, the breath, chakras, various experiences, knowledge in the mind, etc, etc.

The word ‘That‘ refers to the Subject, ie. the Self.
The word ‘This‘ refers to Objects, ie Maya, as described above

False teachings* emphasise ‘This’ whereas true teachings ultimately point to ‘That’.

‘This’ is Maya or illusion; ‘This’ is duality; ‘This’ is ignorance or ego.
‘That’ is Truth; ‘That’ is reality; ‘That’ is non-duality; ‘That’ is True Knowledge.

Only realisation of ‘That’ is non-duality.

In ‘That’, there is no ‘This’
Meaning in the Subject, or in Non-duality, there are no objects, or duality.

To say all of ‘this’ is one with ‘That’ is a mere conceptual proclamation of the ego-mind that has not yet realised the Self.

This is why Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi states in Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 932:

“The mukta [liberated sage] like the rest of us perceives
The world in all its vast variety
And yet he sees non-difference in it”,
So people say. This is not true.

In Yoga Vasistha it is said:

‘It is only as long as you are not fully enlightened that you experience apparent diversity’

and

‘What you call the body does not exist in the eyes of the sage’

and

‘Nothing, not even this body, has ever been created’

Therefore the True Teaching always ultimately recommends the apparent individual to turn away from objects and to turn towards the Subject and thereby discover its true nature as the Subject-Self which is of the nature of non-dual realisation in which the apparent individual no longer exists.

This is the teaching of Guru Ramana Maharshi.
This is the teaching of the Upanishads
This is the teaching of the Buddha
This is the teaching of all liberating Spiritual Teachings

Om Tat Sat

🕉

*False teachings are not necessarily ‘bad’ – in fact they are often helpful ‘stepping stones’ for most seekers and so have their place – however these teachings are not directly in themselves liberating.

Multiplicity, plurality and polarity ARE duality | Non-duality | Sri Ramana Maharshi

Seeing multiplicity/plurality and seeing the underlying oneness within the plurality or multiplicity is not the real non-duality at all.

This false notion of non-duality, which is very commonplace, is actually an ego-preservation strategy where the notion of the ‘false-I’ is subtly continued, and suffering still continues in this state – seeking still continues too, as does a subtle sense of individuality.

Non-duality is that in which there is no duality/multiplicity/plurality/individuality whatsoever. Only then will seeking end. Only then will suffering end. Until this is discovered, seeking will continue, and with it the suffering and sense of individuality (ie. duality) will too. To discover the true non-duality one must turn within and discover the Self for oneself, which is indivisible Oneness-Love-Being-Bliss.

At least this is my experience.

This is why Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi states in Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 931:

  1. “The mukta [liberated sage] like the rest of us perceives
    The world in all its vast variety
    And yet he sees non-difference in it”,
    So people say. This is not true.

Sri Sadhu Om comments upon the above verse as follows:
‘People have many wrong conceptions about the state of a Jnani or Jivanmukta, and one such misconception is refuted here. “What people see as water, the Jivanmukta also sees as water, and what they see as food, He also sees as food. Therefore, in His experience of sense-objects, the Jivanmukta is the same as other people. But even while the Jivanmukta thus sees these differences, He sees the non-difference in them” – are there not many pandits and lecturers who talk and write thus, even though they themselves have no experience of Advaita but have only read about it in books? But who is the proper authority to say what is the actual experience of a Jivanmukta? Only a real Jivanmukta! Thus Bhagavan Sri Ramana, who has actually experienced the reality and who is the true Loka Maha Guru, declares in this verse that such statements are wrong, and in the next verse He explains how and why they are wrong.’

In his commentary to the next verse Sri Sadhu Om continues, relating to us his own direct hearing of Sri Ramana’s teaching:
‘…Regarding this erroneous theory of bheda-abheda or unity in diversity, Sri Bhagavan used to say that if the least difference or diversity is perceived, it means that the ego or individuality is there, so if difference is experienced, non-difference or unity would merely be a theoretical proposition and not an actual experience.’

Q. Why does Advaita Vedanta more commonly refer to ‘Self’ rather than ‘no-self’?

Q. Why does Advaita Vedanta more commonly refer to ‘Self’ rather than ‘no-self’?

Tom: it is because the Non-Dual Reality that we Truly Are is only discovered when we turn towards the sense of ‘I’ or ‘I AM’, otherwise known as ‘Self’. This is the single factor that leads to realisation.

The language of the teaching is there to facilitate the method of discovery of the Self that we truly are, and this discovery is Total Liberation.

How so?

By stating that we are the Self, we are encouraged to discover this for our self in our own experience, and so turn our attention selfwards, ie. towards the Subject or ‘I AM’. When that Self that we are is discovered, only then do notions of Self or no-self themselves become obsolete.

For those who are interested this is explained in detail in the book The Path of Sri Ramana – Part 1, especially in Chapter 8

Here are 2 verses from Sri Ramana Maharshi (taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai):

393.One who has wisely chosen the straight path
Of self-enquiry can never go astray;
For like the bright, clear Sun, the Self
Reveals itself direct to whoso
Turns towards it.

391. Those who do not dive into the Heart
And there confront the Self in the five sheaths hid
Are only students answering out of books
Clever questions raised by books,
And not true seekers of the Self.

Many more verses like this can be found here.

Also see:

Q. Why turn within? Nonduality as I have experienced it is the actual disappearance of what is considered within and without, one seamless blending

The importance of spiritual practice to attain liberation | Sri Ramana Maharshi | Sri Shankara

The following is from a text written by Shankara called Vivekachudamani, as translated by Sri Ramana Maharshi. We will see the following points being made:

  1. Merely stating ‘I am Brahman’ does not in itself lead to liberation. Similarly we can infer that by mere affirmation of other similar spiritual slogans such as saying ‘I am free’ or ‘I am already the Self’ or ‘there is no ego/self’ or ‘all is already one’, etc, mere affirmation of these does not lead to liberation.
  2. In order to attain liberation, ignorance must be removed and the Self must directly be experienced.
  3. Similarly, merely by hearing the truth ‘I am Brahman’ , liberation is not (usually) attained
  4. One must first hear the truth from someone who has experienced the truth first-hand (for only they will be able to tell you the way to truth)
  5. Then one must meditate upon the truth heard and experience the truth directly though constant meditation.
  6. Unless this practice is carried out, maya (aka ignorance) will not be removed and liberation will not be attained.
  7. Every effort must be made to root out ignorance for liberation to result

‘Just as a person’s sickness is not removed without taking medicine, so too his state of bondage is not removed by scriptural texts such as “I am Brahman” without his own direct experience of the Self. One does not become a king by merely saying, “I am a king”, without destroying one’s enemies and obtaining the reality of power.

Similarly, one does not obtain liberation as Brahman Itself by merely repeating the scriptural text “I am Brahman”, without destroying the duality caused by ignorance and directly experiencing the Self.

‘A treasure trove hidden under the ground is not obtained by merely hearing about it, but only by being told by a friend who knows it, and then digging and removing the slab that hides it and taking it out from below the ground.

Similarly, one must hear about one’s true state from a Guru who knows Brahman, and then meditate upon It and experience It directly through constant meditation.

‘Without this, the true form of one’s own Self, that is hidden by maya [“that which is not”], cannot be realised through mere argumentation. Therefore, those who are wise themselves make every effort to remove the bondage of individual existence and obtain liberation, just as they would to get rid of some disease.’

Also see: Sri Ramana Maharshi: the necessity of Meditation

Q. What is ego?

Q. What is ego?

Tom: if there is any sense of individuality whatsoever, then that is ego; if there is any sense or something apart or outside of you, then that is ego; if there is any sense of multiplicity, that is ego; if there is any notion ‘I am the body-mind’, then that is ego. The ego, no matter how refined, is suffering. The ego is the body-mind-world appearance.

In Reality, there has never been any ego, there has never been any duality or multiplicity, there has never been any suffering whatsoever. Reality is only Infinite Love & Bliss, Infinite Being-Consciousness, Formless-Spirit-Bliss.

To realise this one must turn within.

Furthermore:

To say ‘there is no ego’ without turning within and dissolving into Reality – that is merely the ego-mind saying ‘there is no ego’.

To say ‘all is One’ without venturing inwards and discovering the Self (by Being That) – that is merely the ego-mind saying ‘all is One’.

In this way (through not turning within, through not inquiring into the Subject-Self) ego-mind-suffering-duality continue.

Hence the instruction to turn within.

Furthermore:

The true teachings always emphasise the Subject (Reality or Self) and to turn towards and discover That, whereas false teachings emphasise objects, stating things like ‘all these objects are already That so no need to turn within’ and ‘there already is no ego so no need to turn within for what entity could even turn within?’. So egotism, duality and suffering are perpetuated.

Therefore turn within and discover what you truly are

🙏