Questions answered by Ramana Maharshi

Questioner: I once before told Sri Bhagavan (Ramana Maharshi) how I had a vision of Siva about the time of my conversion to Hinduism. A similar experience recurred to me at Courtallam. These visions are momentary but they are blissful. I want to know how they might be made permanent and continuous. Without Siva there is no life in what I see around me. I am so happy to think of Him. Please tell me how His vision may be everlasting to me.

Sri Ramana Maharshi:You speak of a vision of Siva. Vision is always of an object. That implies the existence of a subject. The value of the vision is the same as that of the seer. That is to say, the nature of the vision is on the same plane as that of the seer. Appearance implies disappearance also. Whatever appears must also disappear. A vision can never be eternal. But Siva is eternal. The vision implies the seer. The seer cannot deny the existence of the Self. There is no moment when the Self as consciousness does not exist, nor can the seer remain apart from consciousness. This consciousness is the eternal being. The seer cannot see himself. Does he deny his existence because he cannot see himself with the eyes as in a vision? No. So Pratyaksha (direct experience) does not mean seeing, but being. To be is to realize. Hence, “I am that I am”. “I am” is Siva. Nothing else can be without Him. Everything has its being in Siva and because of Siva. Therefore enquire ‘Who am I?’ Sink deep within and abide as the Self. That is Siva as being. Do not expect to have visions of him repeated. What is the difference between the objects you see and Siva? He is both the subject and the object. You cannot be without Siva because Siva is always realized here and now. If you think you have not realized him it is wrong. This is the obstacle for realizing Siva. Give up the thought also and realization is there.

Question: Yes. But how shall I effect it as quickly as possible?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: This is the obstacle for realization. Can there be the individual without Siva? Even now he is you. There is no question of time. If there is a moment of non-realization, the question of realization can arise. But as it is, you cannot be without Him. He is already realized, ever realized and never non-realized.

Question: I wish to get Sakshatkara (direct realisation) of Sri Krishna. What should I do to get it?

 Sri Ramana Maharshi: What is your idea of Sri Krishna and what do you mean by Sakshatkara?

Questioner: I mean Sri Krishna who lived in Brindavan and I want to see him as the gopis (His female devotees) saw Him.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You see, you think he is a human being or one with a human form, the son of so and so, whereas He Himself has said, “I am in the Heart of all beings, I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all forms of life”. He must be within you, as He is within all. He is Our Self or the Self of Our Self. So if you see this entity (the Self) or have Sakshatkar (direct realization) of it, you will have Sakshatkar of Krishna. Direct realization of the Self and direct realization of Krishna cannot be different. However, to go on your own way, surrender completely to Krishna and leave it to him to grant the Sakshatkar you want.

Question: Is it possible to speak to Iswara (God) as Sri Ramakrishna did?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: When we speak to each other why should we not speak to Iswara in the same way?

Question: Then why does it not happen with us?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It requires purity and strength of mind and practice in meditation.

Question: Does God become evident if the above conditions exist?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Such manifestations are as real as your own reality. In other words, when you identify yourself with the body, as in the waking state, you see gross objects. When in the subtle body or in the mental plane as in dreams, you see objects equally subtle. In the absence of identification in deep sleep you see nothing. The objects seen bear a relation to the state of the seer. The same applies to visions of God. By long practice the figure of God, as meditated upon, appears in dreams and may later appear in the waking state also.

Question: many visitors here tell me that they get visions or thought-currents from you. I have been here for the last month and a half and still I have not the slightest experience of any kind. Is it because I am unworthy of your grace?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Visions and thought-currents are had according to the state of mind. It depends on the individual and not upon the universal presence. Moreover, they are immaterial. What matters is peace of mind. What is realization? Is it to see God with four hands, bearing a conch, a wheel (disc) and a club? Even if God should appear in that form, how is the disciple’s ignorance wiped out? The truth must be eternal realization. The direct perception is ever-present experience. God Himself is known when He is directly perceived. It does not mean that he appears before the devotee in some particular form. Unless the realization is eternal it cannot serve any useful purpose. Can the appearance of God with four hands be eternal realization? It is phenomenal and illusory. There must be a seer. The seer alone is real and eternal. Let God appear as the light of a million suns. Is it Pratyaksha (direct experience)? To see a vision of God the eyes and the mind are necessary. It is indirect knowledge, whereas the seer is direct experience. The seer alone is Pratyaksha.

Question: People talk of Vaikuntha, Kailasa, Indraloka, Chandraloka (the Hindu heavens). Do they really exist?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Certainly. You can rest assured that they all exist. There also a swami like me will be found seated on a couch and disciples will also be seated around him. They will ask something and he will say something in reply. Everything will be more or less like this. What of that? If one sees Chandraloka, one will ask for Indraloka, and after Indraloka, Vaikuntha and after Vaikuntha, Kailasa and so on, and the mind goes on wandering. Where is shanti (peace)? If shanti is required, the only correct method of securing it is by self-enquiry. Through self-enquiry Self-realization is possible. If one realizes the Self, one can see all these worlds within one’s Self. The source of everything is one’s own Self, and if one realizes the Self, one will not find anything different from the Self. Then these questions will not arise. There may or may not be a Vaikuntha or a Kailasa but it is a fact that you are here, isn’t it? How are you here? Where are you? After you know about these things, you can think of all those worlds.

Question: Are the Siddhis (super-natural powers) mentioned in Patanjali’s Sutras true or only his dream?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: He who is Brahman or the Self will not value those Siddhis. Patanjali himself says that they are all exercised with the mind and that they impede Self-realisation.

Question: What about the powers of so-called supermen?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Whether powers are high or low, whether of the mind or of a supermind, they exist only with reference to the one who has the power. Find out who that is.

Question: Are Siddhis to be achieved on the spiritual path or are they opposed to Mukti (liberation)?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The highest Siddhi is realization of the Self; for once you realize the truth you cease to be drawn to the path of ignorance.

Question: Then what use are the Siddhis?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There are two kinds of Siddhis and one kind may well be a stumbling block to realisation. It is said that by Mantra, by some drug possessing occult virtues, by severe austerities or by samadhi of a certain kind, powers can be acquired. But these powers are not a means to Self-knowledge, for even when you acquire them, you may quite well be in ignorance.

Question: What is the other kind?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: They are manifestations of power and knowledge, which are quite natural to you when you realize the Self. They are Siddhis, which are the products of the normal and natural Tapas (spiritual practice) of the man who has reached the Self. They come of their own accord, they are God given. They come according to one’s destiny but whether they come or not, the Jnani, who is settled in the supreme peace, is not disturbed by them. For he knows the Self and that is the unshakable Siddhi. But these Siddhis do not come by trying for them. When you are in the state of realization, you will know what these powers are.

Question: Does the sage use occult powers for making others realize the Self, or is the mere fact of his Self-realization enough for it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The force of his Self-realization is far more powerful than the use of all other powers. Though Siddhis are said to be many and different, Jnana (knowledge) alone is the highest of those many different Siddhis, because those who have attained other Siddhis will desire Jnana. Those who have attained Jnana will not desire other Siddhis. Therefore aspire only for Jnana. Although the powers appear to be wonderful to those who do not possess them, yet they are only transient. All these wonders are contained in the one changeless Self. Greedily begging for worthless occult powers (Siddhis) from God, who will readily give Himself, who is everything, is like begging for worthless stale gruel from a generous natured philanthropist who will readily give everything. In the Heart, which catches fire with the blazing flame of supreme devotion, all the occult powers will gather together. However, with a heart that has become a complete prey to the feet of the Lord, the devotee will not have any desire for those Siddhis. Know that if aspirants who are making efforts on the path to liberation set their heart upon occult powers, their dense bondage will be strengthened more and more, and hence the lustre of their ego will wax more and more. The attainment (Siddhi) of Self, which is the perfect whole, the radiance of liberation, alone is the attainment of true knowledge, whereas the other kinds of Siddhi, beginning with Anima (the ability to become as small as an atom) belong to the delusion of the power of imagination of the foolish mind. People see many things which are far more miraculous than the so-called Siddhis, yet do not wonder at them simply because they occur every day. When a man is born he is no bigger than this electric bulb, but then he grows up and becomes a giant wrestler, or a world-famed artist, orator, politician or sage. People do not view this as a miracle but they are wonder struck if a corpse is made to speak.

Question:When a man realizes the Self, what will he see?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is no seeing. Seeing is only being. The state of Self-realization, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. All that is needed is that Ou give up Our realization of the not-true as true. All of us are regarding as real that which is not real. We have only to give up this practice on our part. Then we shall realize the Self as the Self; in other words, “Be the Self”. At one stage you will laugh at yourself for trying to discover the Self which is so self-evident. So, what can we say to this question? That stage transcends the seer and the seen. There is no seer there to see anything. The seer who is seeing all this now ceases to exist and the Self alone remains.

Question: What is the significance of Guru’s grace in the attainment of liberation?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Liberation is not anywhere outside you. It is only within. If a man is anxious for deliverance, the internal Guru pulls him in and the external Guru pushes him into the Self. This is the grace of the Guru.

Question: How long is a Guru necessary for Self-realization?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Guru is necessary so long as there is ignorance. Ignorance is due to the self-imposed but wrong limitation of the Self. God, on being worshipped, bestows steadiness in devotion, which leads to surrender. On the devotee surrendering, God shows his mercy by manifesting as the Guru. The Guru, otherwise God, guides the devotee, saying that God is within and that he is not different from the Self. This leads to introversion of the mind and finally to realization.

Question: What is samadhi?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The state in which the unbroken experience of existence-consciousness is attained by the still mind, alone is samadhi. That still mind which is adorned with the attainment of the limitless supreme Self, alone is the reality of God. When the mind is in communion with the Self in darkness, it is called nidra (sleep), that is, the immersion of the mind in ignorance. Immersion in a conscious or wakeful state is called samadhi. Samadhi is continuous inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra or sleep is also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion is continuous.