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

Also see: Ramana Maharshi: The world should be considered like a dream

Question: I often read references in Ramana Maharshi’s writings of the need for ALL thought to be removed or extinguished. Is this a translation error? Perhaps he means that only egoic or self-referential thoughts need to be removed? If all thoughts are removed, how could he teach others?

Tom: The need to remove all thoughts seems to be a very strange teaching indeed, and the objection you raise is a common-sense and valid one. However Sri Ramana was very clear that he meant ALL thoughts should be removed. Note this is also known as Samadhi, Turiya or Wakeful-Sleep (Jagrat-Susupti).

eg. In his short text ‘Who am I?’ Ramana writes:

‘The thought ‘Who am I?’, destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre.’

‘As and when thoughts rise, one should annihilate all of them through enquiry then and there in their very place of origin.’

Nowhere in the vedanta teachings do we see any mention of only ‘self-referential thoughts’ needing to be removed, and with good reason too – only when all thoughts are removed will the Reality Shine. Otherwise ignorance will find a way to continue.

We see the same teaching in the Vedanta scriptures such as in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the writings of Gaudapada and of Shankara.

As to how can a Guru teach if he/she has no thoughts, the essential response is that from the point of view of ignorance it seems that Ramana is a body-mind entity (ie. a human being or person) that thinks, acts and suffers, but In Reality Sri Ramana is not a body mind at all – he is the Ultimate Reality – the Self, and it is only from the point of view of ignorance that he seems to move and act and think, etc.

Ramana sometimes said that he couldn’t think a single thought even if he tried! Oh, the paradox!

All thoughts must be removed (by Self-Enquiry)

The text Guru Vachaka Kovai is said to be the most authoritative recording of Sri Ramana’s verbal teachings. Here are some verses on the need to extinguish all thoughts:

  1. Unless the noise of thoughts subsides
    One cannot know the ineffable bliss
    Of mouna.
  1. True wealth is but the gracious silence
    Of steady, unswerving Siva-awareness.
    This bright, rare treasure can be gained
    Only by those who earnestly
    Strive for extinction of all thoughts

(Tom: ie. for liberation, one must earnestly strive for the extinction of ALL thoughts)

  1. Siva, who is Pure Awareness
    Transcending thought, is only known
    To seers heroic who with minds
    Extinct abide thought-free
    The heart, and not to those whose minds
    Are still engaged in thought

(Tom: ie. Liberation is not known to those who are still engaged in thought. One must abide with ‘minds extinct’ and ‘thought-free’)

  1. The mark of bhakti true, total
    Self-surrender at Siva’s Feet,
    Is perfect peace without a thought
    Or word of prayer or plaint.

(Tom: ie. True Bhakti, which is the same as True Jnana, also has no thoughts within it)

How does a sage function with no thoughts? The Jnani (Sage) does not act or think or perceive any differences (The Unfathomable nature of the Sage)

And here are some verses describing the unfathomable nature of Liberation/Jnana/The Jnani:

  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.

(Tom: ie. 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.)

  1. Those who mistakenly perceive
    The variegated universe believe
    The mukta 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 notion that the sage is not a perceiver at all is one we find throughout the vedanta scriptures, but how can the mind understand this?)

  1. Ascribing individual being
    To realised muktas is sheer folly
    Their being is universal Being.
    The separateness seen in that pure
    Sky is but the shadow cast
    By the separateness of lookers-on
    Still bound.

  1. In that great Silence there is no
    Sense of difference. But is there then
    A feeling of non-difference? No.

    The non-duality extolled
    By Seer’s is nothing but the absence
    Of all sense of difference.

(Tom: here Sri Ramana states explicitly that the sage perceives no difference whatsoever, and feels no differences whatsoever. How can this be?! All difference is an effect of ignorance only!)

But do we not see the sage eating, doing things and suffering?

1135 & 1136. Even if the sense of doership
Is dead, “How could one call the sage
A mukta freed from all the bonds
Of karma? Do we not see him eating,
Engaged in work, bearing a body
Of flesh
, accepting prarabdha [destiny],
And suffering pain?” If you ask this,
The answer is, “True, in your sight
He seems to suffer, you see him suffering,
But did he tell you that he suffered?

1137 The sage enjoys as his own being
The bliss of all transcendent Being.
The error lies in these ignorant folk
Seeing him as a body that suffers

1152. Beyond the reach of words extends
The sage’s greatness.
None but he
Can know his state of Being, vaster
Than the sky and than the mountain
Firmer. To experience it
Yourself, you should first shed your own

(Tom: Oh the wonder and unfathomable nature of Self-Realisation! No matter how many times we hear the state of Moksha described, know it cannot be understood! It is truly beyond the mind! How lucky we are to have Sri Ramana’s Presence and Teachings to guide us!)

Blessings and Namaste


To understand this in greater detail, please read the PDF here

Can the mind or thoughts be controlled? Bhagavad Gita | Advaita Vedanta

Many say that (1) the mind (ie. thoughts) cannot be controlled and (2) the mind need not be controlled for liberation to result. Here is what is written in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 6, verses 35 and 36:

Arjuna: The mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate, O Krishna. It appears to me that it is more difficult to control than the wind.

Lord Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.

Note the teaching here is clear – the mind can be controlled. Just practice is required. To find out more, please read Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita which explains the meaning of ‘controlling the mind’, the method of doing so, and the result (Moksha)


Both thought and trying to get rid of thought are illusory mirages of separation

The assumption that thought is an actual thing and that thought has a source, arises only in the realm of imaginary separation. There is, by definition, no way to determining the imaginary source of an imaginary thing.

Whilst it is true that thought is ultimately an illusion, and trying to get rid of thought is also more of the same illusion, there is a logical flaw in this objection, as follows: thoughts may be imaginary, but that does not mean their source is imaginary. Fiction or imagination can have a real source. The teaching is to locate that Source (the Self) and abide there in Pure Being, which is devoid of thought, until the tendency to imagine duality (ie. thought) ceases.

Here are two quotes to illustrate the above points, one from Sri Shankara, and one from Sri Ramana:

The binding, and the getting rid of bondage, are both mirages. The belief that bondage of the Real, is, and the belief that it has ceased, are both mere things of thought

~Sri Shankara, Vivekachudamani verses 571 and 572

All doubts will cease only when the doubter and his source have been found. There is no use removing doubts. If we clear one doubt, another doubt will arise and there will be no end of doubts.

~Sri Ramana Maharshi, Day by Day with Bhagavan

Why turn away from the world? The outer is a reflection of the inner

‘The mind is by nature restless. Begin liberating it from its restlessness; give it peace; make it free from distractions; train it to look inward; make this a habit. This is done by ignoring the external world and removing the obstacles to peace of mind’

~Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 26

Objection: I have a slightly different view then Ramana perhaps did on ignoring the external world. It seems to me that the external world is the reflection of the inner. Becoming conscious of the beauty in nature resonates with the inner. This is perhaps a more indigenous view and is much older then even Vedanta and goes back even to the time when humans were Neanderthals as well as Homo sapiens when everything in nature was animating in presence.

Tom: Yes, being with nature is one of many things that can bring us in tune with the Self and bring us genuine peace and genuine insight, but ultimately for realisation to occur (and thus for suffering to end) one must turn within and all thoughts must cease. Otherwise the illusion of time and space are not seen through and suffering (and duality) continue, even if in a subtle way.

This is why Sri Ramana Maharshi writes in Who Am I?:

Q. When will the realization of the Self be gained?
Sri Ramana: When the world which is what-is-seen [ie. objects] has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.
Q. Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there?
Sri Ramana: There will not be.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Tom: What we call the world (ie. space and time and people) is actually a projection of mind/thought. Put simply, the world, space and time are simply thoughts. Again, this cannot be known unless we turn within, away from the world, towards the Self, and thoughts competely cease. From Sri Ramana Maharshi:

‘When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition’s and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear…All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent.’

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Tom: When thoughts completely cease, time and space disappear. If time and space are still appearing, it is because thought (namely the ‘I-thought’, which is the notion or thought or belief that ‘I am a body-mind’) still persists.

Therefore, when the world appears, the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears the world does not appear.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears.

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Who is the thinker? Removing illusion and delusion

In silence thoughts lessen.

The attachment to thinking and to desire gradually weaken until they eventually fade and die.

If we relinquish the sense of limitation, that limiting belief “ I am the body” then the ego disappears consumed by silence, stillness, being.

Deeper silence and stillness where nothing is lacking.

This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.

See for further information.

Who is the thinker?

In silence thoughts lessen.

The attachment to thinking and to desire gradually weaken until they eventually fade and die.

If we relinquish the sense of limitation, that limiting belief “ I am the body” then the ego disappears consumed by silence, stillness, being.

There is a deeper silence and stillness where nothing is lacking.

This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.

See​ for further information.

You Have to Surrender the Mind | Self-Surrender

We have to surrender the mind. And then That what we are looking for is revealed naturally, spontaneously, effortlessly, but not to the mind.
If you start the practice, even if it is atrocious in the beginning, faith will come.
You will start to fall into the path and accelerate.
Every attempt at stilling the mind is a progress.
You are holding onto the branch of a tree (your mind is holding onto the illusion of body/mind/world – Maya) when your feet are on the ground (you are the Self already).
Only when you turn within and let go of the name and the form (the illusion/Maya) you will discover that you have always been standing on the ground (you have always been the Self).
Do not take this world to be real, or this body mind to be yourself.Do not take your thoughts to be your thoughts.
Abide as the Self.
Merge with the Knowledge that is within you.

These videos are recorded live during satsang meeting and put together by volunteers.

To attend satsang see