Now it is true that Sri Ramana often said that we should ‘be still’ and that this is the practice, but what did he mean by ‘be still’? If we read and examine Sri Ramana’s written work ‘Who Am I?’, we will see what Sri Ramana means when he says ‘be still’ or ‘keep quiet’. Note that we can trust the teachings in ‘Who Am I?’ as an authentic rendition of Sri Ramana’s teachings as they were written by Sri Ramana himself.
Let us see: the first time we come across the notion of quieting the mind in ‘Who Am I?’ is as follows:
‘When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition’s and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.’
Now on the face of it this is quite a strange statement for Sri Ramana to make: that the world will disappear when the mind is still. Clearly, when Sri Ramana states that the mind is to be quiet, he is perhaps using these words in a different way to how they are normally used. How can it be that when the mind becomes quiet the world disappears?
Well earlier in ‘Who Am I?’ Sri Ramana explains that it is the mind is a power that creates or projects the entire body, mind and world, so to ‘be quiet’ means not just to still the ordinary thinking mind, but to still this world-projecting power, ie. to remove all of Maya. Ramana repeats this, see here, also from ‘Who Am I?’:
Question: When will the realization of the Self be gained?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer
Question: Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: There will not be.
I have a video here which explains the importance of this teaching. It fundamentally explains why some teachings are liberating and others are not:
Whilst some teachings may encourage us to still the mind, Sri Ramana is emphasising removing the entire body-mind-world from our consciousness. We can see that Sri Ramana’s teaching is far more extreme than many others – it is this extreme teaching that is needed to remove ignorance and realise the Self.
Sri Ramana emphasises Self-Enquiry as the only sadhana that will lead us to Liberation. Again, Sri Ramana’s teaching is more narrow and prescriptive in this way, as he maintains that Self-Enquiry is the only way. Let us see what else Sri Ramana writes in ‘Who Am I?’:
Question: Are there no other means for making the mind quiescent?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Other than inquiry [Vichara; Self-Enquiry], there are no adequate means.
We can see that Sri Ramana is stating that sadhana or self-enquiry is essential to make the mind quiet, so that when Sri Ramana is asking us to ‘be still’ or ‘keep quiet’, he is actually asking us to do Self-Enquiry.
The above post is excerpted from a longer post entitled Is Papaji’s teaching the same as Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching?
After a brief introduction, Tom guides us into a gentle practice: we’re invited to quieten the mind and to be still.
Then, when we are ready, we can very gently turn within and know the Self.
This video was recorded live during an online meeting
!Om Guru Ramana!
In this video below, the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi have been arranged and presented for deep contemplation. Each quote is repeated twice to increase the impact. If you like this type of video and would like me to make some more, or if you have any feedback for future video offerings, please let me know.
To hear the quotes, see the video below, to read the quotes, please see the text beneath the video.
Here are the quotes:
Be still. Apart from this the mind has no task to do or thought to think
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 773
If you remain still, without paying attention to this, without paying attention to that, and without paying attention to anything at all, you will, simply through your powerful attention to being, become the reality, the vast eye, the unbounded space of consciousness.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 647
Because that state is taught by silence, and also because it is attained by remaining in silence, it is called silence. The sage is in silence always, even when he speaks.
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 539
Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scriptures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is more vast and emphatic than all the scriptures put together.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 398
There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not now and here, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So, I say, the Self is not reached. You are the Self; you are already That.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 251
When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 243
There is a state when words cease and silence prevails
Maharshi’s Gospel, page 14
O foolish mind who is suffering due to the desire for the petty pleasures of this world and of the next, if you remain quiet [i.e. without desire] you will certainly attain that State of Bliss which surely transcends the pleasures of these two.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 379
None can confront and overcome the mind. Ignore it, then, as something false and unreal. Know the Self-Awareness as the real ground and stand firm rooted in it. Then the mind’s movements will gradually subside. If the noise of thoughts rising incessantly within does not subside, the ineffable state of silence will not be revealed.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 921
When one refrains from looking out and noting outward objects, and instead abides within the Heart in Self-Awareness, the ego disappears. The pure silence that then shines forth is the goal of Knowledge.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1194
The end of pain, the bliss of peace results from egoless awareness, and not at all from verbal wisdom.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 532
Having become free from concepts, which are afflicting thoughts, and with the ‘I am the body’ idea completely extinguished, one ends up as the mere eye of grace, the non-dual expanse of consciousness. This is the supremely fulfilling vision of God
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 348
Having restrained the deceitful senses, and having abandoned mental concepts, you should stand aloof in your real nature. In that state of Self-Abidance in which you remain firmly established in the consciousness of the Heart, Sivam will reveal itself.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 349
The true vision of reality that is free from veiling ignorance is the state in which one shines in the Heart as the ocean of bliss, the inundation of grace. In the mauna experience that surges there as wholly Self, and which is impossible to think about, not a trace of grief or discontent exists for the jiva.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 350
Though that state of being the real Self is called the state of knowledge, it is one in which there is none of the three: the knower, the object known, and the act of knowing. That being the case, what does one know there, by what means, and who is there to know? It must be understood that knowledge is just a name for the state of being the Self.
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 40
Except for the one who has completely cut the tie of desires, the false appearance [that he is a suffering jiva] will not cease. Therefore, without any hesitation, one should cut even the desire for the great Divine Happiness.
Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 378
There is a two-fold ignorance, named as knowledge and ignorance, which is experienced by those not aware of the real Self. This pair is unreal just like all else.
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 276
“In that state doubts do not arise since the sage is ever firm in his awareness of the true Self. There he remains without affirmations and vacillations, immersed in the depths of peace, the mind having become extinct.”
Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verse 569
!Om Guru Ramana!
Direct pointing in 3 mins!
The simple way to Liberation or Moksha is to (1) allow the mind be still and (2) not take yourself to be the body-mind.
However, if you still want to know more about this kind of approach, I wrote an article about it here that goes into more detail.
In the traditional path of Knowledge or Jnana, first we are to know our True Self (Atman) and know this to be the same as the Absolute (Brahman). Then we are to be still and renounce all desires.
This spiritual knowledge (Jnana) of ‘I am Brahman’ (Aham Brahmasmi) allows the mind to become still and desireless. Note this does not mean that the body becomes totally inert – no – rather it continues to function naturally according to its destiny (Prarabdha Karma) until the body dies.
Shankara states this multiple times, eg, in Vivekachudamani, and also in his many commentaries, eg. in his commentary upon the Kena Upanishad – in his introduction to the Kena Upanishad Shankara writes:
And [the Self] being eternal, it is not to be secured by any means other than the cessation of ignorance. Hence the only duty is to renounce all desires after the realisation of the unity of the indwelling Self and Brahman.
This is akin to Self-Surrender, as spoken by Sri Ramana Maharshi:
There is no destiny. Surrender, and all will be well. Throw all the responsibility on God. Do not bear the burden yourself. What can destiny do to you then?”
and again here:
Question: Surrender is said to be Bhakti [the path of devotional love]. But Sri Bhagavan [Ramana Maharshi] is known to favour enquiry [ie. the path of Knowledge or Jnana] for the Self. There is thus confusion in the hearer.
Ramana Maharshi: Surrender can take effect only when done with full knowledge. Such knowledge comes after enquiry. It ends in surrender.