Sri Ramana Maharshi – Turn Within (Guided Meditation & Quotes)

The Following teaching statements of Sri Ramana Maharshi are taken from the text Guru Vachaka Kovai (Garland of Guru’s sayings). This text is widely consider to be the most authoritative text on Sri Ramana’s verbal teachings – you can download it using the link below.

In the following video I have read the quotes to form a guided meditation/guided contemplation. You are invited to sit comfortably and allow these soothing words to wash over you and guide you to the Self.

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.

835. Renouncing this phenomenal world
Which seems to, but does not, exist
We gain (the great ones say) the Self,
The Awareness shining all unseen.

755. If without wasting time one starts
And keeps up steady self-enquiry,
One’s life becomes at once ennobled,
One is no more this wretched body,
And there wells up within one’s heart
A sea of bliss supreme.

647. If you refrain from looking at this
Or that or any other object
Then by that overpowering look
Into absolute Being you become
Yourself the boundless space of pure
Awareness which alone is Real
Being.

432. …If you observe
Awareness steadily, this Awareness
Itself as Guru will reveal
The Truth.

291. For those who seek eternal life
The assurance stands: the senses five
Retracted tortoise-like, the mind
Turned homeward to the Self and there
Abiding is pure bliss.

130. When will the fool, who thinks the body
And the world are permanent and clings
To them, find peace? Only when this
Folly leaves him and he trusts
And like a limpet clings to That,
The Self within. Thenceforward he
Shall never more know pain.

390. Without abiding in calm solitude
As the Being-Awareness shining in the heart,
To tear oneself away and look for truth
Fussing everywhere without,
Is like searching with a lighted torch
For a diver in deep water sunk.

420. The knowledge that ignores the Self,
The knower, and holds as true the field
Perceived, is but illusive folly…

293. Know that these countless things are pictures
In a dream and none is real
Apart from the beholder. Shun
This phantom world of names and forms
And dwell in the pure, blissful being
Of Awareness.

697. …Not an iota of the past can touch
Those who dwell unceasingly
In the firmament of Self-Awareness,
Vast, boundless, frontierless and full.

921. None can confront and overcome
The mind. Ignore it, then, as something
False, unreal. Know the Self
As the real ground and stand firm-rooted
In it. Then the mind’s movements will
Gradually subside.

898. When we with mind serene and still
Experience pure unbroken Being,
That is samadhi. In this state
The mind, abiding as the Self
Supreme, shares God’s own Being.

399. If in this manner day after day
Practice is maintained, the mind
Is rendered flawless, pure, the quest
Becomes so easy that the moment
It begins the Heart is reached.

877. Only when the world-illusion goes
Does the blissful light of Self arrive.
Life lived in this bright, blissful light
Is our true, natural life. Other ways
Of life are full of trouble and fear.

974. Unbroken Self-awareness is
The true, bright path of devotion or love.
Knowledge of our inherent nature
As indivisible Bliss supreme
Wells up as Love

418. The only true and full awareness
Is awareness of awareness.
Till awareness is awareness
Of itself, it knows no peace at all.

How to know God. How to see God.

ramana-maharshi.asr_12.crop

See also: IN BRIEF: HOW TO ATTAIN LIBERATION (MOKSHA)

Here a seeker asks Sri Ramana Maharshi how to find or ‘see’ God. When Ramana gives his usual answer, the seeker objects with a very common objection, let us see. The following dialogue has been recorded in the book Conscious Immortality, page 125:

Questioner: How is God to be seen?
Ramana Maharshi: Within. If the mind is turned inwards, God manifests as the inner consciousness.
Questioner: But isn’t God in all the objects we see around us?
Ramana Maharshi: God is in everything and in the seer. Where can God be seen? He cannot be found outside. He should be felt within. To see the objects, mind is necessary, and to conceive God in them is only a mental operation. But that is not real. The consciousness within, purged of the mind, is felt as God.

We can see that Ramana states that to find God, or see God, one must turn within, away from objects and abide as the Consciousness within, the pure Subject, devoid of objects. The seeker responds with a philosophical argument that seems to make sense to the mind. The seeker’s reasoning is as follows: but if God is everywhere and everything, why must I turn within to find Him?

The problem is that while this seem philosophically correct and so makes sense (to the ego-mind!), it doesn’t work. Ramana Maharshi’s teaching is a practical guide. It actually works! Ramana does not simply say to us ‘All is God…All is Self…All is One’ or something similar and leave it at that. Ramana states that yes, God is All, but he cannot be found outside, only within.

What we see around us is also God, yes, but it is God as Maya, and is therefore unreal and gives rise only to suffering and confusion. Maya/the world may make us feel we are making progress by giving us superficial temporary realisations and insights together with philosophical platitudes and positive feelings, but this is simply ‘Maya’s way of ensnaring us’ and perpetuating the ego and suffering.

It is only when we turn within and attend to what is Real, namely our own very Self, that we then Abide as the Self and the above is seen for oneself. Only when we turn within, away from objects, do the Vedanta teachings  come alive. They are transformed from mere concepts to first-hand Reality, and suffering finally comes to an end. Only then is the body-mind identification destroyed. Only then is the infinite divine nature of the Self truly seen. Only then do we truly experience the Ananda or Blissful aspect of the Self.

We see the same teaching given in Ramana’s text ‘Who Am I?’, and knowing the above teaching, namely that we need to turn within, explains what could be seen as a rather strange answer to a question by Ramana:

Question: Is not everything the work of God?
Ramana Maharshi: Without desire, resolve, or effort, the sun rises; and in its mere presence, the sun-stone emits fire, the lotus blooms, water evaporates; people perform their various functions and then rest. Just as in the presence of the magnet the needle moves, it is by virtue of the mere presence of God that the souls governed by the three (cosmic) functions or the fivefold divine activity perform their actions and then rest, in accordance with their respective karmas. God has no resolve; no karma attaches itself to Him. That is like worldly actions not affecting the sun, or like the merits and demerits of the other four elements not affecting all pervading space.

Again, we can see here that Ramana does not simply write ‘yes, all is God, God does all, all is One’, or something similar, but puts forward a different conception of the Self which will orientate our practice as above. He is stating God or the Self is Still, Whole, Unmoving, Unaffected, Self-Shining and Actionless (ie. God or Self does nothing). It is Pure Consciousness, the Subject, the Source of all, and we are to attend to That only. This is how we are to conceive of or think of the Self in order to orientate our practice. This is all beautifully explained in The Path of Sri Ramana.

So, how can we know this is the only way? Try other teachings if you want! You will eventually see they don’t work – despite all the concepts, practices and words your suffering will continue! All other teachings are based upon objects, Maya (ie. they are based upon thoughts, feelings, sensations, body, mind, world, etc): they are therefore based upon that which is transient and temporary and so do not serve to be a good foundation for firm Happiness.

Until you turn within, suffering will continue! Whenever you attend to (ie. attach to) objects, you tacitly strengthen the ego-notion, so turn within, abide as the Self! It is what you truly are, it is the only constant!

See also:

IN BRIEF: HOW TO ATTAIN LIBERATION (MOKSHA)

and

The Path of Sri Ramana

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

meditation moon prayer

Also see: IN BRIEF: HOW TO ATTAIN LIBERATION (MOKSHA)

Q. Nonduality as I have experienced it is the actual disappearance of what is considered within and without. One seamless blending.

Tom: It’s fairly easy for many to realise there is no real within or without, ie. that what we consider inner, such as the mind and thoughts, are non-separate from the supposed outer world. It is all one movement. But it is usually the mind that realises this, in combination with some kind of a genuine seeing.

However these teachings I share here are to end suffering. Most people interested in non-duality do realise on some level the false dividing line between self and other (ie. inner and outer), but suffering still continues due to the habitual egoic tendencies (vasanas).

Basically, the false identity as the ego-mind entity remains intact at a deeper level, and the essential notion of individuality still survives and is believed in despite the ego-mind saying ‘all is one’ or ‘this is it’ or ‘there is already no ego’ or ‘there is already no duality’.

Without turning inward first, it ends up being the ego-mind proclaiming ‘there is no inner/outer’ or ‘all is one’, etc.

After turning inwards, it is then eventually seen that there is no inner/outer, but it is not the ego that sees this and co-opts this, but it is merely the absence of the ego which is itself the illusion of separation. 

It is for this reason practice is almost always required – to end duality at its root and not just on a superficial level. Otherwise the ego-mind, and suffering, both continue.

For a more in-depth understanding of the path to liberation/moksha, please see here: The Path of Sri Ramana

Q. Doesn’t the notion of ‘turning within’ to find yourself create an artificial duality? All is already one! | Self-Enquiry | Atma Vichara

funny face perfect person

Q. Don’t these traditional Vedanta teachings create an artificial duality where there actually is none? Why turn away from the world towards an apparent ‘True Self’? Why create this duality in the first place? All is already one!

Tom: For most, the ego-mind keeps on habitually coming back, causing suffering and perpetuating the illusion of duality until one finally turns to Self-Enquiry and Abides as the Self. You can say ‘all is one’, or ‘this is it already’, or ‘there is no duality’, but usually it is just the ego-mind saying that (ie. it is only on the level of concepts and belief) and so suffering and the illusion of duality continue. The infinite-love-bliss of the Self is not ‘experienced’ or ‘known’.

How to remove the illusion of separation, so it, and the resultant suffering never returns? The only way I know is to abide as the pure consciousness within. This is the teaching of the Vedanta scriptures and of all effective and true spiritual teachings that I have come across.

For most, unless this is done, suffering and peace alternate, which is itself suffering.

The purpose of Satsang/teachers/teachings is only for you to turn within and Be what You already Are. Other than that, no teacher or teaching is required.

‘The seat of Realisation is within and the seeker cannot find it as an object outside him. That seat is bliss and is the core of all beings. Hence it is called the Heart. The only useful purpose of the present birth is to turn within and realise it. There is nothing else to do.’

Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk no. 219

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.

lying buddha

Q. Isn’t it unhealthy and inhumane to turn away from the world and turn within? No disrespect, but denial of the world did not work for me – integration is working. Who said God loved loved us any less for embracing neurosis? God loves us maybe even more.

Tom: I know what you mean, especially with such strong language like ‘vile ways’*. It can seem inhumane and even unhealthy to deny what we consider to be an aspect of ourself. The purpose of this teaching is liberation from suffering, and this turning within is the only way I know of to attain that aim. It is also the traditional way that has been taught in various cultures for millennia – in my view, the reason this simple but radical teaching has stuck around for so long is because it works, and it is the only one that works (it goes by different names in different traditions).

The strong language is only to encourage you to turn within. There are many other aspects of life, and integration as you put it can be wonderfully healing and positive, and that is good of course, but my experience is that positive and healing as it is, it is not ultimately liberating – that is, it improves the prison but does not free one from suffering in its totality. For that Self-Enquiry or Abiding as the Self is required, and that means to turn within to find the divine within. We do not need to suppress neurosis – that is unhealthy – but just allow it and all things to be, but turn our attention away from them and all other objects towards our self – then we discover the Kingdom of Heaven within – only then can we truly say that all is one, and it not be a belief or concept in the ego-mind. Only then does suffering end.

*A version of this question was originally asked after I posted the following verses on Facebook; they are teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi taken from the wonderful text Guru Vachaka Kovai:

75. Only mad folk perplexed because
They deem the false world to be real
Find joy in this illusion.
The truly wise find joy in nothing
But Awareness which is Being.

76. Those well established in the Self,
True Being, will never pursue the world’s
Vile ways. For such descent into
The false allurements of the world
Is yielding to the animal weakness
For sense-pleasure.

77. What does one gain, you well may ask,
By giving up the wealth immense
Of worldly pleasure and seeking only
Mere Awareness?
The benefit of true Awareness
Is the unbroken prevalence
Of peace within the heart, the bliss
Of one’s own natural being.