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


Except by the Lord’s Grace (Sri Ramana Maharshi | Tips for Self-Enquiry | Guru Vachaka Kovai)

‘Except by the Lord’s Grace, which begins to function when one surrenders oneself completely to His Feet with sincere devotion, It [The Reality] cannot be cognised merely by the skill of the mind of the jiva [the apparently individual person]. So subtle is the reality.’

~Sri Ramana Maharshi (Guru Vachaka Kovai, Verse 648, translated by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James)

Here is the same verse 648 translated by T.V. Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman:

‘Know that reality is so extremely subtle, it cannot be known and realised through the exertions of the jiva‘s intellect, but only through the Grace of God, which manifests when you offer yourself up with love at His Feet’

Here is the next verse, verse 649 translated by T.V. Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman:

‘Do not wander and search, having failed to find the Abiding State in spite of receiving tuition in all the arts and sciences, and thoroughly mastering them. The Supreme State is to abide wholly as the Reality that remains enshrined as the form of Love’

Unity admidst diversity? No! This is not true! (Sri Ramana Maharshi refuting the view of Bheda-Abedha)

Also see:

How can the sage function with NO THOUGHTS? Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi Quotes: Nobody here/ the jnani is not a person

In verse 931 of Guru Vachaka Kovai, Sri Ramana Maharshi says:

931. “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.

Tom: the idea that the liberated sage still perceives differences ‘like the rest of us’ but perceives an underlying unity despite various objects being seen is here being refuted. Let us see Sri Sadhu Om’s commentary on Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 931:

Sri Sadhu Om: 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.’

~Sri Sadhu Om

Tom: Let us see the next verse:

932. Those who mistakenly perceive the variegated universe believe the mukta [‘liberated sage’] too is a perceiver like them. But he is not the perceiver.

Tom: ie. Taking yourself, in ignorance, to be a perceiver and doer, one also, in ignorance, takes the sage to be a perceiver and doer. The sage is not a perceiver! The sage is not a doer! It is just a projection of ignorance that views ‘a sage’ in this way, as a human being or individual person. Again let us see Sri Sadhu Om’s comments:

Sri Sadhu Om: Verse 119 of this work should again be read here. So long as one sees oneself as an individual who sees the world of differences, one cannot but see the Jnani likewise as an individual who sees differences. But since the jnani is in fact nothing but the bodiless and individuality-less Jnana Itself [Tom: ie. in reality we not a human being or body-mind entity at all – we are in fact Spirit, or the Bodiless Atman-Brahman], to see Him as a seer and to believe that even He is seeing differences like oneself, is true only in the outlook of ajnanis.

The absolute truth, however, is that the Jnani is not a seer and that He never sees any differences, for as Sri Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Ulladu Narpadu, “Knowledge of multiplicity is only ignorance [ajnana]”. Thus in the above two verses Sri Bhagavan clearly refutes the wrong idea expressed in the note at the end of the introduction to Sat-Darshana-Bhashya, 6th ed. pp. 35 to 38, namely the idea that a Jnani or liberated soul retains His individuality in spite of the destruction of the ego, and that He “perceives diversity in unity and experiences unity in diversity”.

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.

~ Sri Sadhu Om

Deep Sleep and Self-Realisation | Falling asleep during Self-Enquiry

Also see:

Deep sleep is Brahman – the three states according to the Birhadaranyaka Upanishad with commentary by Shankara

Ramana Maharshi: the method of wakeful sleep (Jagrat Sushupti) to attain liberation

Tom: In the following quotes Sri Ramana Maharshi gives us a teaching on the correct relationship between Deep Sleep & Self-Realisation or Jnana:

Questioner: Sushupti [deep sleep] is often characterised as the state of ignorance.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: No, it is the pure state. There is full awareness in it [deep sleep] and total ignorance in the waking state. It is said to be ajnana [ignorance] only in relation to the false jnana prevalent in jagrat [the waking state].

Really speaking jagrat [the waking state] is ajnana [ignorance] and sushupti [the sleep state] prajnana [wisdom]. If sushupti is not the real state where does the intense peace come from to the sleeper?

It is everybody’s experience that nothing in jagrat can compare with the bliss and well-being derived from deep sleep, when the mind and the senses are absent. What does it all mean? It means that bliss comes only from inside ourselves and that it is most intense when we are free from thoughts and perceptions, which create the world and the body, that is, when we are in our pure being, which is Brahman, the Self. In other words, the being alone is bliss and the mental superimpositions are ignorance and, therefore, the cause of misery. That is why samadhi is also described as sushupti in jagrat [sleep in the waking state]; the blissful pure being which prevails in deep sleep is experienced in jagrat, when the mind and the senses are fully alert but inactive.

~ Guru Ramana, pp. 112-13

Tom: Here are some verses from Sri Ramana Maharshi taken from Guru Vachaka Kovai that make similar points, namely that deep sleep is not actually ignorance at all but actually the Self. It is only our belief that the waking state is Reality (and that we are the body-mind) that makes us feel that Deep Sleep is a state of total ignorance. It is actually Pure Knowedge:


Having experienced fully the great bliss of the sublime state of sleep where no other object exists, it is sheer ignorance not to value that state and to regard it as one’s salvation, but instead to desire something else, imagining it to be one’s defence against the misery one experiences.


The ignorance of forgetfulness which makes you say that the waking state is a state of illumination makes you [also] declare that sleep is a sheath [kosa] of ignorance. If the belief that the waking state is the illustrious and unique state of truth goes, then sleep will become, and shine as, pure non-duality.


Only in an intellect that has developed a desire for the waking state will the eminent state of deep sleep, which is all bliss, be classified as a state of ignorance: ‘I did not know anything during sleep.’ By failing to enquire into and realise the true experience that exists and shines in the same way forever, one becomes deluded and thinks, ‘I am the one who woke up’. If that powerful sheath of the intellect, the ignorance that is experienced in the waking state, is destroyed by the sword of vichara [that leads to the knowledge] ‘I am not the one who woke up’, then the eminent state of sleep will shine, remaining as pure bliss, its ignorance destroyed.

Tom: We see the same teaching in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. The following is from talk number 314:

Again, sleep is said to be ajnana [ignorance]. That is only in relation to the wrong jnana prevalent in the wakeful state. The waking state is really ajnana [ignorance] and the sleep state is prajnana [full knowledge].

Tom: Here Bhagavan Ramana explains that the waking and dream states are mere projections of the minds habitual tendencies (vasanas), and when these are removed, only Deep Sleep remains, and this Deep Sleep is nothing but the Self (here called Turiya, the ‘forth’ state.):


If the beginningless, impure vasanas that remain as the cause for waking and dream leave and perish, the state of sleep [previously perceived as] void-like and dull, and which led us into a state of ignorance and suffering, will become the transcendent state of turiya.

Tom: What about if we fall asleep during Self-Inquiry, what then? Bhagavan Ramana reassures us as follows:


If the illumination that is awareness of your being exists so firmly that it remains unshaken until sleep overpowers you, then there will be no need to feel jaded and disheartened, lamenting, ‘Oh, the forgetfulness of nescient sleep has come and unsettled me!’

Tom: Note that the word nescience in the above verse is just a synonym for ignorance, the root meanings of the words being the same, ie. not-knowing. Ignorance negates the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge, and nescience negates the Latin word ‘scientia’ which also means knowledge.

The above verses allow us to more fully understand the somewhat cryptic but important verse in the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verse 69. It also reveals to us the depth of knowledge present in the Bhagavad Gita:

What all [ignorant] beings consider as night, is the day for the wise,

And what all [ignorant] beings see as day, is the night for the sage.

Tom: We can see that the above verse from the Bhagavad Gita is saying that most people consider deep sleep as being total darkness and ignorance, whilst the Sage considers this to be Knowledge, ie The Self. Conversely, what most people consider to be the ‘waking state’ is actually considered by the Sage to be a state of pure ignorance and delusion.

The waking state is considered by most to be a state in which we know things (other objects) and in which we ‘live our life’ as a human being – this is the meaning of ‘day’ for most people. The sage considers this ‘day time’ or ‘waking state to be pure illusion and delusion, or ‘maya’.

Because most people identify as being the body-mind in the waking state, and because most people consider the waking state to be a worthy state in which we experience ‘real life’ and gain ‘worthy life-experiences’, they therefore consider deep dreamless sleep as being a dull dark state full of ignorance. However the sage, who has lost the ego-identification as body-mind, sees Deep Dreamless Sleep only as the Pure Self in which there is only Perfect Love-Being-Bliss devoid of space, time, creation, body, mind, thoughts and concepts.

This same teaching that Bhagavan Ramana has made so clear to us above is also given in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, see here for details

Also see: Ramana Maharshi: the method of wakeful sleep (Jagrat Sushupti) to attain liberation

Let us give thanks and gratitude to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi for his wonderfully clarifying teachings!

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

Ramana Maharshi: ‘Those crazy-minded people…’ | The importance of dispassion towards sense-objects

Those crazy-minded people who do not know as real anything other than the objects of the senses, and who are thereby ruined, will term the jnana that flourishes luxuriantly through dispassion towards sense-objects ‘dry Vedanta’

Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 148

Tom’s comments:

The way to the Truth Within (ie. jnana, meaning wisdom or knowledge), which, for practical purposes, is within each and everyone of us, has always meant we have to turn away from sense-objects, as well as mind-objects (ie. turn away from both gross and subtle objects).

However, for those tamasic and rajasic ones, who are attached to the sensory world of objects, they would call this type of teaching ‘dry’ or ‘life-opposing’ or ‘life denying’. However it is these so-called ‘life-affirming’ teachings that actually keep one in Maya-Samsara-Suffering, for the ‘life’ that is affirmed is simply ‘Maya’ (illusion) and continued suffering.

They who only know the sense-objects, and they who consider these as being real, they betray their underlying attachment to body-mind. How so? It is this underlying attachment to body-mind, and thinking body-mind to be real, that actually causes the world to also appear to be real, and for the sense-objects to thereafter gain so much importance.

These people are ‘crazy-minded’ and ‘thereby ruined’ according to Sri Ramana, his somewhat harsh tone driving the point home emphatically in a compassionate attempt to reveal the true path to liberation.

Let us take heed, and turn away from body-mind-world and discover the Treasure that lies deep within us. Let us reject the small, temporary life of Maya-suffering and instead let us come upon and merge into Life Eternal Within, wherein we become One with Him, Our Beloved.

The path of the Brave and Fearful | Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad | Guru Vachaka Kovai |

Thank you for those who attended Satsang with me yesterday. It was wonderful to be with you all 🙏 Here is a video from the meeting:

Here are some the verses that I mentioned during the Satsang that I wasn’t able to fully remember and quote verbatim at the time, plus a few extra verses at the end (the last 3 verses):

Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad, verses 211 & 212:

211. Only two paths are laid down for the aspirant to deliverance: for the valiant, the quest of one’s own Self, and for the fearful, self-surrender to God. In these two all the paths are included.

[Commentary by Lakshmana Sarma: A great many paths are known and followed, but all come under these two. The valiant one has been already described. The other is the one who is afraid of samsara, but is unable to take to the quest taught by Bhagavan as being the direct path. On this direct path all preconceived notions are dropped, as will be seen later. Self-surrender is the final step in the practice of devotion to God, which is the only other alternative to the direct path.]

212. This two-fold path has been taught by the most holy one, Ramana, thus: ‘Either seek the root of the ego-sense [the ‘I’ that rises within the body] or surrender that ego-sense to God to have it destroyed [by His grace].’

Verses from Guru Vachaka Kovai:

To say that someone practising
Sustained enquiry for the Self, the God
Who is all Awareness, suffered from
Mental derangement, would be like
Saying that some poor fellow died,
Alas, by drinking nectar.

Don’t ask in fear and doubt, “What, what
Will happen if I once for all
Give up this separate self of mine?”
Whoso lets go the bough he clings to
Lands safe on solid earth. You are bound
To reach the real Self.

Forgetfulness of Self is real death.
To overcome the fear of body’s death
We needs must constantly remember
The Self. For self-enquiry then,
There is no fixed rule of time or place.

Courageous ones who know no fear
Find and renounce the world as worthless,
And so gain wisdom true. Others
Are foolish folk by falsehood blinded.

In meditation deep, while yet
A trace of ego lingers, fear
And trembling may sometimes occur.
But when the ego dies at last
In Pure Awareness, quaking stops.
Stillness alone prevails.

Guru Vachaka Kovai PDF download – Ramana Maharshi: Know the Knower

Ramana younger face

Also see: Recommended Reading: Books for Enlightenment, Liberation and Self-Realisation

It is widely accepted that the text Guru Vachaka Kovai presents the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings; Here is what Ramana Ashram states about the Guru Vachaka Kovai in the foreword of their publication of it:

‘[Guru Vachaka Kovai] provides the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Bhagavan’s teaching, explaining step by step the theory, the practice and the experience of jnana, the Truth supreme which is Being as Life Eternal, Pure Awareness, Perfect Bliss. Thus, the most comprehensive collection of the Maharshi’s sayings is Guru Vachaka Kovai.’

Download Guru Vachaka Kovai as a PDF file here

Following my previous post, here are some more verses for you:

Why do people call me learned?
What is the mark of real learning?
Learning that all garnered knowledge
Of things is empty ignorance
And that true knowledge is the search
For the Knower.

He, who by questing inward for
The Knower, has destroyed the ego
And transcended so-called knowledge,
Abides as the Self. He alone
Is a true knower, not one who has
Not seen the Self and therefore has
An ego still.

Those who, learning to forget
Completely all objective knowledge,
Turn inward firmly and see clearly
The Truth, abide serene. Those who
Try to recall forgotten things
Pine bewildered, fretting over
False phenomena.

Ramana Maharshi: The World and Self-Realisation

ramana escape the tricks of maya

Here are some verse from Guru Vachaka Kovai, perhaps the most comprehensive and accurate record of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s spoken teachings. I have used this version which contains comments from Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James. Much gratitude to them for making this wonderful text available. My comments are in italicised red:

71. Just as the goat’s beard wanders and wags for nothing, people roam about merrily but in vain, doing Karmas for the fulfillment of their worldly desires, while despising the disciplines [followed by aspirants] which lead to eternal Moksha in Self. Ah, what a pitiable spectacle is the condition of these worldly people!

Tom: Ramana states that people engaged in worldy actions (karmas; the work karma literally means ‘action’ in Sanskrit, often used to denote cause and effect, here just refers to action) are to be pitied, and notes the irony that those who are ignorant shun the very practice (ie. self enquiry) that leads to eternal Moksha (liberation)

72. Longing for a tiny grain of pleasure, people toil so hard using the mind to plough the field of the five senses, but they never wish for the flood of Bliss which is the fruit that comes by ploughing the Heart, the Source of the mind, with [simple] Self-attention. Ah, what a wonder!

Tom: Simple self-attention is all that is needed instead of chasing all these pleasures which not only takes so much effort, but also causes so much suffering.

73. The moon-like jiva [the mind], ever wedded to the sun-like Self, should always remain in her home, the Heart; to forsake the Bliss of Self and go astray for worldly pleasures, is like the madness of a wife who spoils her precious chastity.

Tom: note the seeker’s job here is to discern the teaching rather than be side-tracked by whether or not this verse is politically correct in today’s social landscape. Ramana equates seeking wordly pleasures with infidelity. Instead we are to remain faithful to ourselves and abide as the Self in the Heart.

74. Only when the world’s allurement is lost will true Liberation be possible [and its allurement cannot be lost unless it is found to be unreal]. Hence, to try to foist reality upon this world is to be just like an infatuated lover who tries to foist chastity upon a prostitute.

Sadhu Om: A lover foists chastity upon a prostitute only because of his infatuation with her, and similarly some schools of thought argue and try to insist upon the world’s reality, only because of their immense desire for the enjoyment of this world. Therefore Liberation, which is the fruit of desirelessness, is absolutely impossible for them. 

75. Only for the mad folk who are deluded, mistaking this fictitious world as a fact, and not for the Jnani, is there anything to revel in except Brahman, which is Consciousness.

Tom: There is only Consciousness

76. Will those who are rooted in the Knowledge of Truth stray to worldly ways? Is it not the base and weak nature of animals that descends to the sensual pleasures of this unreal world?

77. If you ask, “What is the benefit of sacrificing the innumerable sensual pleasures and retaining mere Consciousness?”, [we reply that] the fruit of Jnana is the eternal and unbroken experience of the Bliss of Self.

Sadhu Om: Any experience of worldly pleasure is small and interrupted, whereas the Bliss of Self attained through Jnana is eternal and unbroken, and is therefore the greatest benefit.

78. Truly there is not the least happiness in any single worldly objects, so how then is the foolish mind deluded into thinking that happiness comes from them?

79. Fools are now so proud and happy of the wealth and pleasure of this world, which may at any time abandon them in disappointment and distress.

80. Suffering from the heat of the three-fold desires, all living beings wander in the empty and arid desert of this dream-world, which is created by the whirl of past tendencies. The shade of the Bodhi-tree which can completely cool this heat is only Self, which shines as Turiya [the fourth state].

Michael James: The three-fold desires are for women, wealth and fame.

Tom: do not wander into the arid desert of the world, or ‘dream-world’ as is written above, instead be still, abide as the Self, That which you already are in your very Being.