Who Am I? – November 13 2019

Who Am I? – November 13 2019

Know the real self, and then the truth will shine forth within your heart like sunshine. The mind will become untroubled and real happiness will flood it, for happiness and the true self are identical. You will have no more doubts once you attain this self-awareness.

  All quotations are from A Search in Secret India

by Paul Brunton

Sri Ramana Maharshi was one of the first Indian masters to be sought out by Westerners, introduced to them by Paul Brunton in his 1934 book, A Search in Secret India. Brunton, in meeting Sri Ramana, was able to ask his all-consuming question: if it was possible for him, Brunton, to achieve enlightenment.

Sri Ramana replied, “You say ‘I’. ‘I want to know.’ Tell me, who is that I?”

Brunton is nonplussed, does not understand the question. Finally, he points to himself and mentions his name.

Sri Ramana replies, “And do you know him?”

“All my life!” I smile back at him.

“But that is only your body! Again I ask, ‘Who are you?’… Know first that ‘I’ and then you shall know the truth.”

Sri Ramana Maharshi’s entire teaching can be summed up with this query: ‘Who am I?’ He found his own enlightenment when, at the age of 16 and overcome by ‘a sudden violent fear of death,’ he asked himself the question, if I die, who is it that dies? and suddenly knew himself as that which lives on after the body dies, that spirit which transcends death. From that time forward he spent his time absorbed in solitary self-appraisal and eventually he came to teach, though mostly in silence, disciples and students gathering around him and forming an ashram in his name in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India, in the shadow of the sacred mountain, Arunachala. When his name became known through Brunton’s writings he was visited by many from the West, from Hollywood and from the highest reaches of Western society, including W. Somerset Maugham who based a character on Sri Ramana in his final novel, The Razor’s Edge.

In his talks with Paul Brunton, Sri Ramana instructs him to meditate each day, and during the times he is not meditating to perform his duties while keeping alive ‘that current induced during meditation,’ in this way keeping himself working on self-realization at all times, and always asking the question, ‘Who am I?’ by which one begins ‘to perceive that neither the body nor the brain nor the desires are really you.’ Eventually in this way the answer will come to you ‘out of the depths of your own being.’

When a man knows his true self for the first time, something else arises from the depths of his being and takes possession of him. That something is behind the mind; it is infinite, divine, eternal. Some people call it the kingdom of heaven, others call it the soul, still others name it Nirvana, and Hindus call it Liberation; you may give it what name you wish. When this happens a man has not really lost himself; rather, he has found himself.

When we sit in meditation, we settle down through the layers of self, de-exciting until we contact the place of pure Being within. Here we are touching upon the experience that Sri Ramana describes above. With this amazingly simple mental technique we have been given the capacity again and again to experience the truth of ourselves, the truth of life. Men and women throughout the ages have longed for just such a gift.

For this practice and for all the teachers through whom it has passed to find its way to me, I say thank you.

Today I will find gratitude for everything and everyone that leads me in the direction of the true Self. 

Arunachala, the sacred mountain, Tiruvannamali, Tamil Nadu, South India