Thursday, June 3, 2021

Writings on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj by Jean Dunn


Below in PDF file are the journals of Jean Dunn from 1977 to 1981, in which she writes in detail of her time with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and includes dialogues that she and others had with Maharaj that have rarely been made public. Copies of these journals have been informally and freely circulating for decades, under the title "Jean's Journals" among those who are students and practitioners of Advaita Vedanta, and particularly of those who have been inspired by and connected to Nisargadatta Maharaj and other sages.

Jean Dunn was the editor of three books of dialogues with Nisargadatta Maharaj that are regarded as classics, titled "Seeds of Consciousness", "Prior to Consciousness", and "Consciousness and the Absolute". After Maharaj's passing, and on his authorization, Jean would meet with those who would come to her seeking guidance.  This edition of Jean's Journals is complete, unedited, and unaltered.  Nothing is left out from the original manuscript that has been circulating, and it includes an article that Jean Dunn wrote on Nisargadatta Maharaj that was published in the Mountain Path journal in the October 1978 issue—it also includes an interview with Jean Dunn done by Malcolm Tillis which was published in his book "Turning East".

Thursday, April 1, 2021

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

[By William Cowper]

Monday, March 22, 2021

Sri Ramana Wants Us To Keep It Simple


I recently uploaded a section on Self Enquiry onto my website. You can view it at this link

I realise and accept that we have to keep repeating the message over and over for it to overwhelm all those stubborn vasanas.

When you go to the Ashram bookstore it is packed with all and sundry discussing Ramana's self enquiry. But it was Ramana that admonished us "don't make it complicated, its very simple." Below is a short quote from the book Bhagavan's Grace which is an example of the perfect simplicity of his representation of Self Enquiry. Its very nice.

Bhagavan's Grace

Q:  What are the hindrances to the realization of the true self?

Bhagavan:  Memory, chiefly habits of thoughts, accumulated tendencies.

Q:  How does one get rid of these hindrances?

Bhagavan:  Seek for the self through meditation by tracing every thought back to its origin, which is only mind. Never allow thought to run on. If you do it will be unending. Take it back to the starting place, the mind; again and again, and the thought and the mind both die of inaction.

The mind only exists by reason of thought. Stop that and there is no mind. As each doubt and depression arises, ask yourself, "Who is it that doubts?" Tear everything away until there is nothing but the source of all that remains.

Live always in the present, there is no past or future, except in the mind.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Self Enquiry explanation by Rupert Spira

I have embedded a video of Rupert Spira down below. Rupert Spira born March 13, 1960 is an international teacher of the “direct path”, (neoadvaita method of spiritual self enquiry) which he communicates through talks and writing. In addition he is a trained, notable English potter with work in display at collections throughout the world.

For me he is one of the clearest and best speakers on self enquiry. He keeps his talks and explanations simple and uncomplicated. Think he is one of the most helpful speakers on self enquiry nowadays.

Give the video a watch and make your own mind up. You can check out his website at this link here.

Find out the Nature of I

Sunday, July 30, 2017

How to Stop the Mind's Chatter

I have only recently started to watch videos of Sadhuguru Jaggi Vasudev (The Founder of Isha Foundation). In this regard I find his discourses and instruction very helpful and inspirational.

This particular video is how to stop the chatter of the mind. His specific instruction is not to eat bad food. This is particularly interesting for me here at Arunachala because Sri Ramana Maharshi told that the quickest way to a peaceful mind, is to eat good “sattvic” food.

However food is not only what we eat and drink, the Bhagavad Gita explains "food" is anything that feeds the 5 senses. Violent movies, loud music, spicey food, non-vegetarian food etc etc. will all agitate the mind.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Glory of the Ribhu Gita

Many great saints of India, including Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamiji (the Sage of Kanchi), Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj and Sri Ramana Maharshi, have declared the excellence of the Ribhu Gita and recommended its reading and/or recitation to their devotees.

The Ribhu Gita is an exposition of Advaita (non-duality) by the Sage Ribhu to Nidagha and other sages and is set in the midst of the epic Sivarahasya. The appearance of Ribhu Gita in Sivarahasya has been compared to the appearance of Bhagavad Gita set in the midst of the epic Mahabharata.

Ribhu Gita.

Brahma had a son by name Ribhu. Ribhu, by his very nature, possessed a sound knowledge of Brahman. Nidagha, the son of Maharshi Pulastya, was a disciple of Ribhu. Pleased with the good qualities of Nidagha, Ribhu instructed his disciple fully in the knowledge of the Brahman. Ribhu found out that his disciple, though proficient in all the scriptures, was not steady in the knowledge of the Brahman, because he was not able to cognise the one Reality underlying the various objects of the Universe.

Nidagha went and settled himself in Viranagar on the banks of the river Devika and began to lead an ideal life bearing in mind at all times the duties of a true householder. After the lapse of a long time Ribhu went to Viranagar with the object of seeing his disciple Nidagha. Nidagha was waiting at the gate in expectation of a guest after duly performing his daily sacrificial rites. Nidagha welcomed Ribhu warmly and took him inside the house. Nidagha duly worshipped the noble guest and humbly requested him to take his dinner.

Ribhu said, O Brahmin! Please tell me what kind of food you will serve me today. I do not relish unholy foods. Nidagha said, I have got in my house wheat-flour, maize, fruits, roots and loaves of bread. Of these whichever you like I shall be pleased to serve you with.

Ribhu said, I do not want all these useless food-stuffs. Give me good sweets, rice boiled in milk, curds, molasses and other delicious articles.

Then Nidagha said to his wife, O mistress! Soon make ready a very palatable and savoury meal for our guest today with the best of articles available in the house. According to the wishes of her husband, Nidagha's wife prepared the dinner and he fed Ribhu sumptuously. When Ribhu had just finished his dinner Nidagha humbly requested him thus: O my venerable guest! Was the food tasty? Are you fully satisfied? Where do you live? Where are you proceeding now and wherefrom are you coming?

Ribhu replied, He who is hungry becomes satisfied when he takes a hearty meal. I was never hungry at all and why do you put me this question? When by the constant working of the Jatharagni (digestive fire) the digestive organs get tired, man feels hungry and when the water in the system gets exhausted he feels thirsty. Hunger and thirst are the Dharmas of the body and not mine. Since there is no hunger at all for me, I am always satisfied. Pleasure and satisfaction are the functions of the mind. I am not the mind too. Enquire then about these things whose Dharma is satisfaction, pleasure etc.

Now hearken to me about the other questions 'Where do you live? Where do you go? And wherefrom are you coming?' Atman or the Self is all-pervading like the ether and therefore these questions do not at all apply to It. The questions themselves are without basis. I do not go anywhere. I do not come from any place and I do not remain in any one place. These differences of 'I', 'he' and 'you' are in respect of the different bodies and not in reality. The truth is that you are not you. I am not myself nor is he another different from the other two.

A sweet thing is not always sweet. When I requested of you sweet rice etc., my intention was simply to know what you would say. For the really hungry man everything is palatable. The same food which is palatable once begins to give the reverse impression the next moment. When man has taken food to his heart's content even the most delicious food causes retching. Thus the tasty food becomes non-tasty and vice versa. Further, is there any such food which is uniformly tasty in the beginning, middle and end? This physical body made of earth is kept up by food which is also earth particles in reality. Just as the wall built out of clay is kept strong by coating it with clay now and then, this body also remains healthy and strong by the atoms of food that we take. Barley, wheat, green dhal, oil, milk, curds, sugar, fruits, etc., are all mere atoms of earth only. Then which of these are we to call tasty and which non-tasty? Knowing thus you should educate your differentiating mind and try to see the one underlying thing in all and you should become serene. Serenity is the most important qualification for the attainment of Moksha.

Hearing these words of wisdom Nidagha prostrated before Ribhu and humbly said, O Revered sir! Be gracious unto me. Please reveal thy identity. I think you have come here to bless me with the true knowledge. by hearing your soul-elevating speech I am free from all delusions.

Ribhu replied, O Brahmin! I am your preceptor Ribhu. I came here to give you the knowledge of the Self by which you will be able to distinguish the real from the unreal. I take leave of you now. That which is true and which is fit to be known, I have already told you. Ever meditating on these truths may you find the whole world indwelt by the one Vasudeva! There is not even a grain of difference or duality in it.

Nidagha paid his due respects, worshipped his Guru and lived happily in the true spirit of the teachings of his Guru.


After a long number of years had rolled on, Maharshi Ribhu, in order to instruct Nidagha in the knowledge of Self, again went to Viranagar City. When he reached the city he saw that the king of the country had entered the city with a big crowd of followers. He found big crowds of men in every nook and corner of the town busily engaged in the reception of the king. Ribhu noticed Nidagha standing in a secluded place far away from the crowds with Kusa and Samidha in his hands. Nidagha was much afflicted by hunger and thirst but he could not proceed further towards his house due to the huge crowd of men obstructing his way.

Ribhu went near Nidagha and questioned him thus: Dear Brahmin! Why are you standing here alone in quite a solitary corner? Nidagha replied, Today the king of this country has come here and there is much crowd waiting upon him and I cannot push my way through the crowd. Hence I am forced to wait here.

Ribhu said, You seem to know all about this place. Please tell me who is the king and who are the others. Nidagha said, He who is seated on the huge elephant which resembles a big mountain, is the king, and the others are his courtiers who have accompanied him.

Ribhu said, Revered sir, you have described both the elephant and the king jointly and of the two I am at a loss to know who is the king and which is the elephant. You did not definitely point out or give me the description of both distinctly. That I would like to know from you. Nidagha said, Of these that which is below is the elephant and one who sits over it is the king. They have the connection of the carrier and the carried. I do not think that there is anyone who cannot understand even this.

Ribhu said, Yes, I understood that. But please tell me what the words 'below' and 'above' mean. How am I to understand which is up and which is down?

Nidagha at once got upon the shoulders of Ribhu and exclaimed, Look here, O Brahmin, hearken to me. I shall reply your query. Now I stand 'up' like the king and you stand 'down' like the elephant. This illustration I have given you practically to make you thoroughly understand what is 'up' and what is 'down'.

Ribhu said, What is 'up' and 'down'? They are relative terms. 'Up' becomes 'down' and 'down' becomes 'up' from different positions or angles of vision. You told me now that you were standing up like the king and that I was standing down like the elephant. Please tell me 'who are you? who am I?' I am very eager to know the truth of this. Hearing these words Nidagha prostrated at Ribhu's feet and said, O Lord! You are none other than Rishi Ribhu, my beloved preceptor. No one else can speak like this. You are very intelligent. You who stand in front of me are no other than Maharshi Ribhu. Pray bless me.

Then Ribhu said, O Nidagha! Once you served me with great faith and devotion and welcomed me in your house. You bestowed on me great honour. So bound by the cords of your affection I, known as Ribhu, have come to you once again to instruct you in the knowledge of the Self. O thou of high intellect! Always behold the one reality of the Self in all objects of the world. May you see oneness everywhere and not duality. Saying thus Ribhu departed.

Nidagha contemplated over the nectar-like words of his Guru and attained union with the Para Brahman. He was never again deluded by the charms of Maya. The world of duality entirely vanished and he saw the one homogeneous essence in every object from a blade of grass to the state of the Brahma.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Nature of Consciousness by Rupert Spira

Rupert Spira is one of the most lucid contemporary speakers on advaita. The below video is of his talk on the nature of consciousness. All experience appears in Consciousness, is known by Consciousness and is made of Consciousness. Contemplating experience in this way, we arrive at the inevitable conclusion that Consciousness is the sole reality of all that is. All that remains is to live the implications of this felt understanding in all realms of life.

Rupert Spira has been deeply interested in the nature of Reality from an early age. For twenty years he studied the teachings of Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, Rumi, Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta and Robert Adams, until he met his teacher, Francis Lucille, thirteen years ago. Francis introduced Rupert to the teaching of Jean Klein, Parmenides, Wei Wu Wei and Atmananda Krishnamenon and, more importantly, directly indicated to him the true nature of experience.

The Nature of Consciousness by Rupert Spira 

Friday, January 27, 2017

John de Ruiter Satsang: Arunachala Live Streaming

If you are not able to visit Tiruvannamalai at this time, and are eager to watch live Satsang, John de Ruiter is holding a Live Stream Satsang Programme from Thursday January 26, 2017 until Wednesday February 8, 2017. 

Live Streams and VODs with John de Ruiter from Tiruvannamalai, India January 26 – February 8, 2017. For more information go to his website at this link here

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Robert Adams Audio Satsang

'During the Fall of 1946, Robert arrived by train to the town of Tiruvannamalai, a few miles from Arunachala Mountain, where lay Ramanashram and his future teacher, Ramana Maharshi. He took a bullock cart to the Ashram, was admitted, and stayed the night. Early the next day while walking back from the mountain, towards the Ashram, he spotted Ramana walking down the path towards him. An electrifying energy coursed through his body, and the last of what men call an ego left him. He felt completely surrendered, completely open. As Ramana got closer, Robert stripped off his clothes, approached Ramana and dropped to his guru's feet. Ramana reached down grabbing Robert by his shoulder, and looked into Robert's eyes with complete love and said, 'I have been waiting for you. Get up! Get up!' Robert said had Ramana asked him to leap over a cliff at that moment, he would have done so gladly. 

Robert stayed at Ramana Ashram for a little over three years, during which time he bought a jeep for the Ashram to bring supplies from town, and helped build a large hospital at the Ashram using money from an inheritance. . . . 

During the late 1940's, Ramana was almost constantly ill with severe arthritis and other ailments, including the cancer that eventually killed him. Few visitors were allowed to stay for more than a few weeks at the Ashram, so Robert lived mostly in the caves above, which also allowed him to avoid the crowds.' 

Robert Adams

"Do not debate, discuss, interpret nor pronounce your spiritual Path; simply devote yourself heart and soul to it, day and night, with humility. One who is progressing has no desire to pronounce it. Choose one Path and take it all the way. The point is to have a Direct Experience of God. Of the Unimaginable Beauty Within . . . . Utilize this time to transcend identification with your human-hood of personal suffering completely, and the Bliss, the love of True Reality, will come shining forth. There is a world of beauty, Supernal love, compassion, bliss indescribable. With which do you identify?" 
[Robert Adams]

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How to Practice Self Enquiry by Rupert Spira

Many devotees who visit Arunachala wish to learn more about Self Enquiry and how to practice it. Probably one of the most popular works available at the Ramana Ashram bookstore explaining the method of Self Enquiry is by Sri Sadhu Om. 

Nowadays there are many videos on the internet by modern day teachers and gurus talking about “techniques” of Self Enquiry. 

Probably one of the most lucid and helpful contemporary teachers of advaitism and Self Enquiry is Rupert Spira. Below is a short narrative of his life. 

Rupert lives in Oxford, U.K., where he works as a a ceramic potter whilst also holding satsang meetings and spiritual retreats worldwide.

Rupert Spira

Rupert Spira is a spiritual writer and teacher of Advaita (non duality). His first teacher was Dr. Francis Roles, and under his guidance he learnt mantra meditation and was introduced to advaitism. Concurrently he studied the works of P.D. Ouspensky and learnt about the Movements of Gurdjieff. He also attended meetings of Dr. Krishnamurti which were highly influential in his spiritual development. Throughout his spiritual endeavours he studied the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. A meeting with Robert Adams (shortly before Adams’ death) was to lead him to his next teacher Francis Lucille. Over the next 12 years Rupert Spira immersed himself in spirituality under the guidance of Francis Lucille. Spira was later to say: 

 “I do not know what it is about the words, actions or presence of the teacher or teaching that seem to awaken this recognition of our essential nautre as it truly is and its subsequent realisation in our lives but I am eternally grateful to Francis for our friendship.” 

Rupert Spira at Satsang

There is an excellent question and answer narrative on Rupert Spira at this link. One of the questions posed to Rupert Spira is: 

Question: What do you think about Ramana’s practice of Self-enquiry? 

Answer: The natural state is simply to be, without resisting what is by inverting upon an inward self or trying to replace what is by pursuing objects in the world. However, if we think and feel that we are a separate entity, resisting and searching are unavoidable. In other words, we will be searching for the Happiness we believe is missing, rather than simply being. As such, having deeply tasted the futility of the search for Peace or Happiness in the objects of the body, mind and world, the very best we can do as this apparent entity is to explore the entity we consider ourselves to be, the one who is in search. This enquiry resolves itself in the abidance of our own Being. Thus, Self-enquiry is the highest activity that a mind that is still in search can undertake. However, Self-enquiry doesn’t end with the discovery that we are impersonal, ever-present Awareness. It continues as an impersonal activity that facilitates the realignment of the mind, body and world with the experiential understanding of ourselves as impersonal Awareness. 

Question: Would you say that a time frame is required for the teaching to mature (as in traditional Advaita and the teacher-guru relationship) or would you say some kind of understanding could arise at any time (as in Neo Advaita and the satsang formula)? 

Answer: Both! Enlightenment is always instantaneous. In fact, it is timeless, although it may or may not be preceded by a period of investigation. 

After the non-objective recognition of our own Being, a process takes place in time that re-orchestrates, as it were, the mind, body and world with this new experiential understanding. 

If there has been a long period of investigating and exploring these matters prior to the recognition of Being, the body and mind may already be well aligned with this experiential understanding so that when this recognition occurs not much adaptation is necessary. 

However, if this recognition takes place spontaneously with little or no preparation, the mind and the body may be utterly disorientated by this recognition and may, as a result, require longer to become realigned with it. 

However, there are no rules or formulas. Anything is possible. 

----- oOo -----

Below is a video of Rupert Spira answering the question. “How to practice Self Enquiry?” during one his spiritual retreats.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Padma and Torsten Satsang

Padma and Torsten, satsang teachers from Germany often visit Arunachala with Retreat groups. Below is one of their satsang videos entitled: 

“Handing the Wave, We Believe to Be, Willingly over to the Ocean” 

Inner motionlessness; 

the habit of thinking about us as a person in space and time keeps us caught in trance; the trance can fall away at any moment, as it is based on thoughts and thoughts appear and disappear; 

the idea of me and you can fall away and being remains, what we are anyway already; 

more and more persons get insights into effortless spontaneous being without I-thoughts trying to step in; 

time and space happen in Satsang also; 

“who or what experiences awareness?” 

is the vivid question of self experiencing and this question is open; 

who is aware of awareness?; 

there is nothing missing in this moment; 

untouchable awareness arises once the question “what is it which is aware of itself?” dissolves; 

perceiving the resting in awareness which resonates with all appearances and in your body; 

exploring the limits of the bodies curiously; 

handing the “wave” over to the ocean; 

letting go of all defenses, checking what is really here; 

the willingness to stop and look what is really happening; 

when we are ready to be nothing then we realize that we are everything; 

about pride; grabbing for pride, feeling good with it and by this escaping the feeling of worthlessness can be an addiction; 

the nothing can infuse angst; 

the willingness not to hold on anything; 

no method, no knowing and no holding; guiding mind out of the dependency of methods; being does not require and method; 

being in resonance with what is here already; 

being in resonance with the heart energy; 

the identification of the enlightened with enlightenment is the final temptation; 

the willingness of experiencing nothing and everything; the bigger the readiness to lose everything the bigger the freedom which shows oneself. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Silent Teachings and Satsang

Upamanyu said: (Mahadeva) Thou art he who imparts instruction in utter silence. Thou art he that observes the vow of taciturny (for Thou instructest in silence). 
[Source: Mahabharata--Anusasana Parva, Section XVII] 

Below in question and answer format is an enlightening discussion between the Guru and devotee on the nature of satsang. Ramana Maharshi said the most important element in satsang is the mental connection with the Guru; satsang takes place not only in the presence of the Guru but whenever and wherever one thinks of him. 

Question: How can silence be so powerful? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: A realised one sends out waves of spiritual influence, which draw many people towards him. Yet he may sit in a cave and maintain complete silence. We may listen to lectures upon truth and come away with hardly any grasp of the subject, but to come into contact with a realised one, though he speaks nothing, will give much more grasp of the subject. He never needs to go out among the public. If necessary he can use others as instruments. 

The Guru is the bestower of silence who reveals the light of Self-knowledge that shines as the residual reality. Spoken words are of no use whatsoever if the eyes of the Guru meet the eyes of the disciple. 

Question: Why does not Bhagavan go about and preach the truth to the people at large? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: How do you know I am not doing it? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around? Preaching is simple communication of knowledge; it can really be done in silence only. What do you think of a man who listens to a sermon for an hour and goes away without having been impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another, who sits in a holy presence and goes away after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is the better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out inner force? 

Again, how does speech arise? First there is abstract knowledge. Out of this arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and thought to the spoken word. So the word is the great grandson of the original source. If the word can produce an effect, judge for yourself how much more powerful must be the preaching through silence. 

Question: Does Bhagavan give diksha (initiation)? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Mouna (silence) is the best and the most potent diksha. That was practised by Sri Dakshinamurti. Initiation by touch, look, etc., are all of a lower order. Silent initiation changes the hearts of all. 

Dakshinamurti observed silence when the disciples approached him. That is the highest form of initiation. It includes the other forms. There must be subject-object relationship established in the other diksha. First the subject must emanate and then the object. Unless these two are there how is the one to look at the other or touch him? Mouna diksha (silent initiation) is the most perfect; it comprises looking, touching. It will purify the individual in every way and establish him in the reality. 

Question: Swami Vivekananda says that a spiritual Guru can transfer spirituality substantially to the disciple.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Is there a substance to be transferred? Transfer means eradication of the sense of being the disciple. The master does it. Not that the man was something at one time and metamorphosed later into another. 

Question: Is not grace the gift of the Guru? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: God, grace and Guru are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent. Is not the Self already within? Is it for the Guru to bestow it by his look? If a Guru thinks so, he does not deserve the name. 

The books say that there are so many kinds of diksha, initiation by hand, by touch, by eye, etc. They also say that the Guru makes some rites with fire, water, japa or mantra and calls such fantastic performances diksha, as if the disciple becomes ripe only after such processes are gone through by the guru. 

If the individual is sought he is nowhere to be found. Such is the Guru. Such is Dakshinamurti. What did he do? He was silent when the disciples appeared before him. He maintained silence and the doubts of the disciples were dispelled, which means that they lost their individual identities. That is jnana (knowledge) and not all the verbiage usually associated with it. 

Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the sastras (scriptures) may be they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster and more emphatic than all the sastras put together. These questions arise because of the feeling that, having been here so long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent; In fact the guru is always within you. 

Question: Can the Guru’s silence really bring about advanced states of spiritual awareness? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is an old story, which demonstrates the power of the Guru’s silence. Tattvaraya composed a Bharani, a kind of poetic composition in Tamil, in honour of his Guru Swarupananda, and convened an assembly of learned pundits to hear the work and assess its value. The pundits raised the objection that a Bharani was only composed in honour of great heroes capable of killing a thousand elephants in battle and that it was not in order to compose such a work in honour of an ascetic. Thereupon the author said, "Let us all go to my Guru and we shall have this matter settled there." 

They went to the Guru and, after they had all taken their seats, the author told his Guru the purpose of their visit. The Guru sat silent and all the others also remained in mouna (silence). The whole day passed, the night came, and some more days and nights, and yet all sat there silently, no thought at all occurring to any of them and nobody thinking or asking why they had come there. After three or four days like this, the Guru moved his mind a bit, and the people assembled immediately regained their thought activity. They then declared, "Conquering a thousand elephants is nothing beside this Guru’s power to conquer the rutting elephants of all our egos put together. So certainly he deserves the Bharani in his honour!"

Question: How does this silent power work? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Language is only a medium for communicating one’s thoughts to another. It is called in only after thoughts arise. Other thoughts arise after the "I"-thought rises and so the "I"-thought is the root of all conversation. When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence. 

Silence is ever speaking. It is a perennial flow of language, which is interrupted by speaking. These words I am speaking obstruct that mute language. For example, there is electricity flowing in a wire. With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as a fan. In the wire it remains as electric energy. Similarly also, silence is the eternal flow of language, obstructed by words. 

What one fails to know by conversation extending to several years can be known instantly in silence, or in front of silence. Dakshinamurti and his four disciples are a good example of this. This is the highest and most effective language. 

Question: Bhagavan says, "The influence of the jnani (self-realised) steals into the devotee in silence." Bhagavan also says, "Contact with great men (mahatmas) is one efficacious means of realising one’s true being"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes. What is the contradiction? Jnani, great men, Mahatmas - do you differentiate between them? 

Question: No 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Contact with them is good. They will work through silence. By speaking their power is reduced. Silence is most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence, so mental contact is the best. 

Question: Does this hold good even after the dissolution of the physical body of the jnani or is it true only so long as he is in flesh and blood? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Guru is not the physical form. So the contact will remain even after the physical form of the Guru vanishes. One can go to another Guru after one’s Guru passes away, but all Gurus are one and none of them is the form you see. Always mental contact is the best. 

Question: Is the operation of grace the mind of the Guru acting on the mind of the disciple or is it a different process? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The highest form of grace is silence. It is also the highest upadesa (teaching). 

Question: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the loudest form of prayer. 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is so for the seeker’s silence. The Guru’s silence is the loudest upadesa. It is also grace in its highest form. All other dikshas (initiations) are derived from mouna (silence), and are therefore secondary. Mouna is the primary form. If the Guru is silent the seeker’s mind gets purified by itself. 

Question: Sri Bhagavan’s silence is itself a powerful force. It brings about a certain peace of mind in us. 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Silence is never-ending speech.Vocal speech obstructs the other speech of silence. In silence one is in intimate contact with the surroundings. 

The silence of Dakshinamurti removed the doubts of the four sages. Mouna Vyakhya Prakatita Tattvam means the truth expounded by silence. Silence is said to be exposition. Silence is so potent. 

For vocal speech, organs of speech are necessary and they precede speech. But the other speech lies even beyond thought. It is in short transcendent speech or unspoken words (Para Vak). 

Question: Can everyone benefit from this silence? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Silence is the true Upadesa (teachings). It is the perfect upadesa. It is suited only for the most advanced seeker. The others are unable to draw full inspiration from it. Therefore they require words to explain the truth. But truth is beyond words. It does not admit of explanation. All that it is possible to do is to indicate it. 

Question: It is said that one look of a Mahatma is enough, that idols, pilgrimages, etc., are not so effective. I have been here for three months, but I do not know how I have been benefited by the look of Maharshi. 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The look has a purifying effect. Purification cannot be visualised. Just as a piece of coal takes a long time to be ignited, a piece of charcoal takes a shorter time, and a mass of gunpowder is instantaneously ignited, so it is with grades of men coming into contact with Mahatmas. The fire of wisdom consumes all actions. Wisdom is acquired by association with the wise (Satsang) or rather its mental atmosphere. 

Question: Can the Guru’s silence bring about realisation if the disciple makes no effort? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: In the proximity of a great master, the vasanas (subtle impressions that lead to desires) cease to be active, the mind becomes still and samadhi results. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary. Eventually the disciple will know it to be his real being and will thus be liberated even while alive. 

Question: If the search has to be made within, is it necessary to be in the physical proximity of the Master? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It is necessary to be so until all doubts are at an end. 
Question: I am not able to concentrate by myself. I am in search of a force to help me. 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, that is called grace. Individually we are incapable because the mind is weak. Grace is necessary. Sadhu seva (serving a sadhu or a mendicant) will bring it about. There is however nothing new to get. Just as a weak man comes under the control of a stronger one, the weak mind of a man comes under control easily in the presence of strong minded sadhus. That which is only grace; there is nothing else. 

Question: Is it necessary to serve the Guru physically? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Sastras (scriptures) say that one must serve a Guru for twelve years in order to attain Self-realisation. What does the Guru do? Does he hand it over to the disciple? Is not the Self always realised? What does the common belief mean then? Man is always the Self and yet he does not know it. Instead he confounds it with the non-Self, the body, etc. Such confusion is due to ignorance. If ignorance is wiped out the confusion will cease to exist and the true knowledge will be unfolded. By remaining in contact with realised sages the man gradually loses the ignorance until its removal is complete. The eternal Self is thus revealed. 

Question: You say that association with the wise (satsang) and service of them is required of the disciple. 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes, the first really means association with the unmanifest Sat or absolute existence, but as very few can do that, they have to take second best which is association with the manifest Sat, that is, the Guru. Association with sages should be made because thoughts are so persistent. The sage has already overcome the mind and remains in peace. Being in his proximity helps to bring about this condition in others, otherwise there is no meaning in seeking his company. The guru provides the needed strength for this, unseen by others. 

Service is primarily to abide in the Self, but it also includes making the Guru’s body comfortable and looking after his place of abode. Contact with the Guru is also necessary, but this means spiritual contact. If the disciple finds the Guru internally, then it does not matter where he goes. Staying here or elsewhere must be understood to be the same and to have the same effect. 

Question: My profession requires me to stay near my place of work. I cannot remain in the vicinity of sadhus. Can I have realisation even in the absence of satsang? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Sat is Aham Pratyaya Saram, the Self of selves. The sadhu is that Self of selves. He is immanent in all. Can anyone remain without the Self? No. So no one is away from satsang. 

Question: Is proximity to the Guru helpful? 

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Do you mean physical proximity? What is the good of it? The mind alone matters. The mind must be contacted. Satsang will make the mind sink into the Heart. Such associations both mental and physical. The extremely visible being of the Guru pushes the mind inward. He is also in the Heart of the seeker and so draws the latter’s inward-bent mind into the Heart. 

Question: All that I want to know is whether satsang is necessary and whether my coming here will help me or not?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: First you must decide what is satsang. It means association with Sat or Reality. One who knows or has realised Sat is also regarded as Sat. Such association with Sat or with one who knows Sat is absolutely necessary for all. Sankara has said that in all the three worlds there is no boat like satsang to carry one safely across the ocean of births and deaths. 

Satsang means sanga (association) with Sat. Sat is only the Self. Since the Self is not now understood to be Sat, the company of the sage who has thus understood it is sought. That is satsang. Introversion results. Then Sat is revealed.