What does Ramana Maharshi mean by ‘I-I’?

Questioner:

Please can you explain what is meant by the last line in this quote from ‘Who am I?’ by Sri Ramana Maharshi?

‘By a steady and continuous investigation into the nature of the mind, the mind is transformed into That to which the ‘I’ refers; and that is in fact the Self.

Mind has necessarily to depend for its existence on something gross; it never subsists by itself. It is this mind that is otherwise called the subtle body, ego, jiva or soul.

That which arises in the physical body as ‘I’ is the mind. If one enquires whence the ‘I’ thought in the body arises in the first instance, it will be found that it is from hrdayam or the Heart. That is the source and stay of the mind.

Or again, even if one merely continuously repeats to oneself inwardly ‘I-I’ with the entire mind fixed thereon, that also leads one to the same source.’

Tom:

It means to turn away from objects towards the Self; the mantra ‘I-I’ just being a means to point your attention Selfwards.

‘I-I’ means ‘I am I’ or ‘I am that I am’. This is because in most Indian languages ‘I’ and ‘I am’ are essentially the same word.

In the Path of Sri Ramana Part One it states on p.114:

The consciousness ‘I am’ when felt along with an adjunct (upadhi) as ‘I am so-and-so’ becomes a thought. Of all thoughts, this thought is the first. But the consciousness which shines alone as ‘I-I’ without any adjunct is Self (atman) or the Absolute (brahman). This is not a thought. It is our ‘being’ (that is, our true existence)

and on page 133 it states:

But as we have already said, it is to be understood that the consciousness mixed with adjuncts as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ is the ego (ahankara) or the individual soul (jiva), whereas the unalloyed consciousness devoid of adjuncts and shining alone as ‘I-I’ (or ‘I am that I am’) is Self (atman), the Absolute (brahman) or God (iswara).

We can see that I-I (and the variants of this such as ‘I am that I am’, etc) simply refer to the Self, that is consciousness without any objects, as per the quote on page 133.

Am I the Subject, or am I beyond both subject and object?

Question: Am I the Subject, or am I beyond both subject and object? Some teachers will say, ‘you are not the object, nor are you the subject, you are beyond that which is both.’ Could you explain please?

Tom: The essential teaching is that You – the Absolute, the Self, the Divine – You are beyond all objects, that is, you are beyond body-mind-world.

If a teaching says what you are is beyond both subject and object, then subject refers to the body-mind and object refers to the world, and you are That Pure Consciousness which is beyond both.

If a teaching states you are the Pure Subject beyond all phenomenal objects, then You refers to Pure Consciousness beyond all objects, ie. body-mind-world.

Don’t forget the purpose of the teaching is not to have merely an intellectual understanding of the above, but to turn your attention selfwards and abide as the Self, for this is the key/clue that leads to self-realisation – otherwise it is just theoretical talk.

Namaste

Tom

Shankara: The Self (That Brahman Art Thou)

Here in a series of verses taken from Shankara’s masterpice Vivekachudamani, the Self is described and the basic technique of meditation is given. We can see we are to meditate upon ourselves as being Brahman, which is eternal, ever-present, timeless, beyond all names and forms and devoid of names and forms. It is the Source of all. It is unmoving, like the ocean without any waves. It, being formless, cannot be known by the intellect or sense organs. It is unmoving, unchanging, causeless, non-dual, needs no other support and has no parts or components.

Sri Shankara

254. That which is beyond caste and creed, family and lineage; devoid of name and form, merit and demerit; transcending space, time and sense-object – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

255. That Supreme Brahman which is beyond the range of all speech, but accessible to the eye of pure illumination; which is pure, the Embodiment of Knowledge, the beginningless entity – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

256. That which is untouched by the sixfold wave; meditated upon by the Yogi’s heart, but not grasped by the sense-organs; which the Buddhi [intellect] cannot know; and which is unimpeachable – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

257. That which is the substratum of the universe with its various subdivisions, which are all creations of delusion; which Itself has no other support; which is distinct from the gross and subtle; which has no parts, and has verily no exemplar – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

258. That which is free from birth, growth, development, waste, disease and death; which is indestructible; which is the cause of the projection, maintenance and dissolution of the universe – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

259. That which is free from differentiation; whose essence is never non-existent; which is unmoved like the ocean without waves; the ever-free; of indivisible Form – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

260. That which, though One only, is the cause of the many; which refutes all other causes, but is Itself without cause; distinct from Maya and its effect, the universe; and independent – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

261. That which is free from duality; which is infinite and indestructible; distinct from the universe and Maya, supreme, eternal; which is undying Bliss; taintless – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

262. That Reality which (though One) appears variously owing to delusion, taking on names and forms, attributes and changes, Itself always unchanged, like gold in its modifications – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

263. That beyond which there is nothing; which shines even above Maya, which again is superior to its effect, the universe; the inmost Self of all, free from differentiation; the Real Self, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; infinite and immutable – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.

The above excerpt was taken from the post: Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation

IN BRIEF: HOW TO ATTAIN LIBERATION (MOKSHA)

Om red multiple

For more detailed explanations of the entire path to liberation see this link – I recommend you read and study the two texts found here and put them into practice: The Path of Sri Ramana

Suffering: our predicament

Ever-obsessed with the transient*, we suffer. Ever-involved with that which changes*, the Self remains (seemingly) covered** and unrealised, and so we, taking ourselves to be a separate body-mind entity, remain in bondage and illusion and continue to suffer and feel confused.

Our True Nature

What you truly are has never suffered, has never undergone change, has never been confused and never been subject to birth, death, illusion or delusion. It is beyond both happiness/peace and suffering/sorrow. It is that pure consciousness ‘within’, it is That which you truly are.

How to Attain Liberation (Moksha)

Release yourself from this suffering and destroy ignorance in its totality by turning away from transient things and attending to your Self, that Pure Consciousness which is You. Turn your attention to That Which You Are and in doing this Be What You Are. Know the Knower, attend to the Seer, that is, Be Your Self and abide as such, until illusion/suffering/ignorance/doubt is no more.

Why This Practice is Necessary

For most, without this sadhana (spiritual practice), ignorance will continue to rise up again and again due to the strength of the habitual tendencies (vasanas) to identify as a separate body-mind entity, and so confusion and suffering will continue as will the seeking and various doubts.

See here for why other ways tend not to work.

In Summary

So Attend to what You Are, Be what You Are, Abide as the Self until ego/maya/ignorance/delusion is no more 🙏

🕉🕉🕉***

OBJECTIONS: Turn within? Really?

For objections that the mind throws our way, please see the following posts:

Q. Turn Within? Really? Isn’t this dualistic and doesn’t this just strengthen the ego?
Q. Isn’t it unhealthy and inhumane to turn away from the world? This kind of denial hasn’t worked for me. Integration is working.
Q. Why turn within? Nonduality as I have experienced it is the actual disappearance of what is considered within and without, one seamless blending
Q. Doesn’t the notion of ‘turning within’ to find yourself create an artificial duality? All is already one!

Q. Who or what does Self-Enquiry? Why still the mind? Isn’t this more mind?

Notes

*’the transient’ or ‘that which changes’ refers to the body, mind (thoughts, feelings, imaginings, experiences, conceptual knowledge) and the world, also known as Maya or illusion.

**for practice purposes of the teaching, in this context it is said that the Self is covered by Maya, as this is how it seems to the suffering seeker of truth and liberation. This aspect of the teaching has a practical orientation and places instruction on the path to liberation above mere conceptual/intellectual notions such as ‘the Self is never covered’, etc. These intellectual notions are are often used by the ego to avoid spiritual practice and liberation, which is the ending of egotism, and perpetuate ignorance-ego-suffering.

***the True Self is symbolised by the symbol ‘Om’, the Pure Consciousness within, that which is beyond name, form, description, conceptualisation, knowledge or experience. It is beyond both suffering and happiness/peace. It is also the meaning of the terms ‘true knowledge’ (Jnana) and ‘direct experience’ (Aparokshanubhuti), Bliss (Ananda) and Peace (Shanti), and Non-Duality (Advaita). It is what is signified in the Mandukya Upanishad as Turiya or AUM

Also see

This first link, The Path of Sri Ramana, contains detailed descriptions and explanations of the entire path in an easy to read way. I recommend you read, study and put into practice these two texts:

The entire path explained: the Path of Sri Ramana (Parts 1 and 2; PDF downloads)

Ramana Maharshi: how to abide as the Self

How to know God. How to see God.

Ramana Maharshi: Know the Knower

Ramana’s own writing: Who Am I? (Nan Yar?) by Sri Ramana Maharshi

Q. What in brief is the means to know one’s own real nature? What is the effort that can bring about the sublime inner vision?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Strenuously withdrawing all thoughts from sense objects, one should remain fixed in steady, non-objective [ie. subjective] enquiry. This, in brief, is the means of knowing one’s own real nature; this effort alone bring about the sublime inner vision.

Sri Ramana Gita, Chapter 3, verses 4-6

If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.

Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi’s Gospel

The Upanishads and Vedanta

Amritabindu Upanishad:

The mind severed from all connection with sensual objects, and prevented from functioning out, awakes into the light of the heart, and finds the highest condition. The mind should be prevented from functioning, until it dissolves itself in the heart. This is Jnana, this is Dhyana, the rest is all mere concoction of untruth.

Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method (Mandukya Upanishad Karika):

When the mind…remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman.

When the mind, after realising the knowledge that Atman alone
is real, becomes free from imaginations and therefore does not
cognise anything, for want of objects to be cognised, it ceases
to be the mind.

Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation:

Dwelling on external objects will only increase evil propensities, so wisely recognising this fact, one should abandon external objects and and constantly attend to one’s true nature within, the Atman [the Self].

Yoga Vasishta Sara (The essence of the Yoga Vasishta)

Katha Upanishad:

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active: that is called the Supreme State [Brahman]

Svetavastara Upanishad:

Be absorbed, through samadhi, in the eternal Brahman.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

The Self alone is to be meditated upon.

Mandukya Upanishad:

Mandukya Up not simple consciousness

Mandukya Up cessation of all phenomena

Om red multiple

Shortcut to Nirvana: nothing to perceive/ your true nature – Chan (Zen) Master Hui Hai

Before Zen spread to Japan and was known as Zen, it was in China and known as Chan. Here 8th Century Chan Master Hui Hai gives us a wonderful short-cut to enlightenment or nirvana:


dazhu_huihai

Hui Hai: The Shurangama Sutra says: ‘Perceptions employed as a base for building up positive concepts are the origin of all ignorance (avidya); ‘perception that there is nothing to perceive – that is nirvana, also known as deliverance.’

Questioner: What is the meaning of ‘nothing to perceive’?

Hui Hai: Being able to behold men, women and all the various sorts of appearances while remaining as free from love or aversion as if they were actually not seen at all – that is what is meant by ‘nothing to perceive’.

Questioner: That which occurs when we are confronted by all sorts of shapes and forms is called ‘perception’. Can we speak of perception taking place when nothing confronts us?

Hui Hai: Yes.

Questioner: When something confronts us, it follows that we perceive it, but how can there be perception when we are confronted by nothing at all?

Hui Hai: We are now talking of that perception which is independent of there being an object or not. How can that be? The nature of perception being eternal, we go on perceiving whether objects are present or not. Thereby we come to understand that, whereas objects naturally appear and disappear, the nature of perception does neither of those things; and it is the same with all your other senses.

[Tom: what is being signified here by ‘eternal’ perception that is independent of objects? :-)]

Questioner: When we are looking at something, does the thing looked at exist objectively within the sphere of perception or not?

Hui Hai: No, it does not.

Questioner: When we (look around and) do not see anything, is there an absence of something objective within the sphere of perception?

Hui Hai: No, there is not.

Questioner: When there are sounds, hearing occurs. When there are no sounds, does hearing persist or not?

Hui Hai: It does.

Questioner: When there are sounds it follows that we hear them, but how can hearing take place during the absence of sound?

Hui Hai: We are now talking of that hearing which is independent of there being any sound or not. How can that be? The nature of hearing being eternal, we continue to hear whether sounds are present or not.

Questioner: if that is so, who or what is the hearer?

Hui Hai: It is your own nature, which hears, and it is the inner cogniser who knows.

Discerning True Self & Emotions

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Q: During deep meditation peace is there all the time. But otherwise it comes and goes…I want to have the direct experience of the peace that never comes and goes | Annamalai Swami

 

annamalai swami final talks

Question: During deep meditation peace is there all the time. But there is still a feeling that peace is something that can come and go. I know that this is just an idea, but I want to eliminate this idea and have the direct experience of the peace that never comes and goes.

Bhagavan says, ‘You are always the Self. It is just your notion that you are not the Self that has to be got rid of.’ How does this happen?

Annamalai Swami: The Self is peace and happiness. Realizing peace and happiness within you is the true realization of the Self. You cannot distinguish between peace, happiness and the Self. They are not separate aspects. You have this idea that peace and happiness is within you, so you make some effort to find it there, but at the moment it is still only an idea for you.

The Self is peace and happiness...You cannot distinguish between peace, happiness and the Self.

So, ask yourself, ‘To whom does this idea come? Who has this idea?’

You must pursue this line if you want to have the idea replaced by the experience. Peace is not an idea, nor is it something that comes and goes. We are always That. So, remain as That. You have no birth and no death, no bondage and no freedom. It is perpetual peace, and it is free from all ideas.

The ‘I am the body” idea is what is concealing it. This is what has to go.

The ‘I am the body” idea is what is concealing it. This is what has to go.

Question: So the notion of being the body and the mind comes back and covers the experience?

Annamalai Swami: Yes, yes. This idea, ‘I am the body’ is not there during sleep. Everyone enjoys sleeping, and the reason we enjoy it is because there are no thoughts there. It is the thoughts that arise that cause us all our trouble. There is no separate entity during sleep because no thought has arisen to create the image of one.

When waking comes, this first rising thought, ‘I am the body,’ brings separation, doubts, and confusion. If you can be without it in the waking state there will be the knowledge, ‘I am Ramana, I am Arunachala. Everything is myself.’

…this first rising thought, ‘I am the body,’ brings separation, doubts, and confusion. If you can be without it in the waking state there will be the knowledge…

Rama, Krishna, etc., are all you. It is just this limiting ‘I am the body’ thought that keeps this knowledge, this awareness from you.

In the waking state, the jnani has no limiting thoughts, no ego that identifies with a name and a form. His state is crystal clear. Ramana Bhagavan had no ego, no limiting thoughts, which is why he knew himself to be this peace, this happiness.

Ramana Bhagavan had no ego, no limiting thoughts, which is why he knew himself to be this peace, this happiness

The above excerpt is taken from Annamalai Swami Final Talks, Chapter 14