Who am I? - Nāṉ Yār?

By Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi - Translation by Michael James, Edits by Nathan Curry

It is a look at what is involved in:

A meditation on who we are and what joy lies in the essence of our nature; a profound meditation on what we are not, looking through all our deceptions about our nature, so as to discern what is actually true. One might say this text is the pinnacle of wisdom...

Since all sentient beings want to be always happy without misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause for love, in order to obtain that happiness, which is one’s svabhāva  - one's own essential nature, that one experiences daily in dreamless sleep, which is devoid of mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary. For that, jñāna-vicāra awareness-investigation called ‘Who am I?’ alone is the principal means.

Who am I? 

The sthūla dēha - the ‘gross’ or physical body, which is formed by sapta dhātus - seven constituents, namely: chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen, is not I.

The five jñānēndriyas - the sense organs, namely ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose, which individually and respectively know the five viṣayas - ‘domains’ or kinds of sensory phenomena, namely: sound, touch [texture and other qualities perceived by touch], form [shape, colour and other qualities perceived by sight], taste and smell, are also not I.

The five karmēndriyas - organs of action, namely mouth, feet/legs, hands/arms, anus and genitals, which respectively do the five actions, namely speaking, going, moving, walking, giving, discharge of faeces and enjoying (sexual pleasure), are also not I.

The pañca vāyus - the five ‘winds’, ‘vital airs’ or metabolic processes, beginning with prāṇa - breath, which do the five metabolic functions, beginning with respiration, are also not I. 

The mind, which thinks, is also not I. 

All viṣayas - phenomena - and all actions ceasing (as in sleep or any other state of manōlaya - temporary cessation of the mind), the ignorance (namely absence of awareness of any phenomena) that is combined only with viṣaya-vāsanās  -inclinations to experience phenomena - is also not I. 

Eliminating everything mentioned above as not I, the awareness that stands separated, that alone is I.

The nature of such awareness is sat-cit-ānanda - being-consciousness-bliss.

If the mind, which is the cause for all awareness of things other than oneself and for all activity, ceases or subsides, jagad-dṛṣṭi - perception of the world will depart, be dispelled. 

Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake goes, awareness of the rope, which is the adhiṣṭhāna - basis, base or foundation, will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is kalpita - a fabrication, imagination or mental creation, departs, darśana - seeing or sight of svarūpa - one’s own form or real nature, which is the adhiṣṭhāna, will not arise.

What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti - an extraordinary power - that exists in ātma-svarūpa - the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself. It makes all thoughts appear or projects all thoughts. When one looks, excluding (removing or putting aside) all thoughts, solitarily there is not any such thing as mind; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa (the ‘own form’ or very nature) of the mind.

Excluding thoughts or ideas, there is not separately any such thing as world. In deep sleep, there are no thoughts, and consequently there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and consequently, there is also a world. 

Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear (or projects the world) from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. 

When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear. 

If one goes on investigating the nature of the mind, oneself alone will end as mind - that is, oneself alone will finally turn out to be what had previously seemed to be the mind. What is [here] called ‘tāṉ’ [oneself] is only ātma-svarūpa

The mind stands only by always going after - following, conforming to, attaching itself to, attending to or seeking a sthūlam - something gross, namely a physical body; solitarily it does not stand. The mind alone is described as sūkṣma śarīra - the subtle body-  and as jīva (the soul).

Whatever it is that rises in this body as ‘I’, that alone is the mind. If one investigates in what place the thought called ‘I’ first appears in the body, one will come to know that it is in the heart -the innermost core of oneself. 

That alone is the birthplace of the mind. Even if one continues thinking ‘I, I’, it will take and leave [one] in that place. Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. 

Only after the first person - the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’ - appears do second and third persons - that is all other things - appear; without the first person, the second and third persons do not exist.

Only by the investigation "Who am I?' will the mind cease forever; the thought who am I? - that is, the attentiveness with which one investigates what one is, destroying all other thoughts, will itself also in the end be destroyed like a corpse-burning stick - a stick that is used to stir a funeral pyre to ensure that the corpse is burnt completely. 

If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate:

"To whom have they occurred?"

However many thoughts rise, what does it matter? Vigilantly, as soon as each thought appears, if one investigates to whom it has occurred, it will be clear: to me. If one investigates who am I; by vigilantly attending to oneself, the ‘me’ to whom everything else appears, the mind will return to its birthplace - to oneself, the source from which it arose; and since one then refrains from attending to it, the thought that had risen will also cease. 

When one practises and practises in this manner, for the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases. When the subtle mind goes out through the doorway of the brain and sense organs, gross names and forms, the phenomena that constitute both the mental and the physical worlds appear; when it remains in the heart, the core of oneself, namely one’s fundamental awareness, ‘I am’, names and forms disappear. 

The name ‘ahamukham- facing inside or facing I - or ‘antarmukham- facing inside - refers only to keeping the mind in the heart - that is, keeping one’s mind or attention fixed firmly on the fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which is the core or heart of ego, the adjunct-conflated awareness ‘I am this body’- without letting it go out towards anything else whatsoever. 

The name ‘bahirmukham’ - facing outside - is only for/ refers only to letting it go out from the heart: letting one’s mind move outwards, away from ‘I am’ towards anything else. 

Only when the mind remains firmly fixed in the heart in this way, will what is called ‘I,’ the ego, which is the mūlam - root, foundation, cause or origin- for all thoughts, depart and oneself, who always exists, alone shines.

Only the place where the thought called ‘I’ (ego) does not exist, even a little, is svarūpa -one’s ‘own form’ or real nature, meaning ourself as we actually are. That alone is called ‘mauna- silence. 

The namejñāna-dṛṣṭi-‘knowledge-seeing’, seeing through the eye of real knowledge or pure awareness - refers only to just being in this way. What just being (summā-v-iruppadu) is is only making the mind dissolve in ātma-svarūpa - the real nature of oneself. 

Besides this state of just being, in which ego is dissolved forever in ātma-svarūpa and therefore does not rise at all to know anything else, knowing the thoughts of others, knowing the three times [past, present and future], and knowing what is happening in distant places cannot be jñāna-dṛṣṭi.

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa -the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigaḷ -fabrications, imaginations, mental creations, illusions or illusory superimposition - in it, like the illusory silver in a shell. 

These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Svarūpa one’s own form or real nature, alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ (ego or soul); svarūpa alone is God; everything is śiva-svarūpa - the ‘own form’ or real nature of śiva, the one infinite whole, which is oneself.

For the mind to cease - for it to settle, subside, yield, be subdued, be still or disappear, except via vicāraṇā - self-investigation - there are no other adequate means. 

If made to cease, subside or disappear by other means, the mind remains even after temporarily ceasing, and again rises up. Even by prāṇāyāma - breath-restraint - the mind will cease; however, so long as prāṇa remains (prana here means life, as manifested in breathing and other physiological processes) remains subsided mind will also remain subsided, and when prāṇa emerges it will also emerge and wander about under the sway of its vāsanās - inclinations or propensities. The birthplace both for mind and for prāṇa is one: the ātma-svarūpa, the real nature of oneself, which is pure awareness, ‘I am."

Thought alone is the svarūpa - the ‘own form’ or actual nature of the mind. The thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is ego. From where ego arises, from there alone the breath also rises up. So when the mind ceases the prāṇa also ceases, and when the prāṇa ceases the mind also ceases. The prāṇa is said to be the gross form of the mind. Until the time of death the mind keeps the prāṇa in the body, and at the moment the body dies, grasping it it goes forcibly taking the prāṇa, the mind departs. Therefore prāṇāyāma is just an aid to restrain the mind - to make it temporarily cease, subside or disappear, but that will not bring about manōnāśa - annihilation of the mind - enlightenment.

‘Therefore when the mind ceases the prāṇa also ceases, and when the prāṇa ceases the mind also ceases’:

However in sleep, even though the mind has ceased, the prāṇa does not cease. It is arranged thus by the ordinance of life for the purpose of protecting the body, and so that other people do not wonder whether the body has died. When the mind ceases in waking and in samādhi - a state of manōlaya or temporary dissolution of mind brought about by prāṇāyāma or other such yōga practices, the prāṇa ceases#.

Just like prāṇāyāma, what are called mūrti-dhyāna - meditation upon a form of God, mantra-japa, repetition of a sacred word or phrase, usually consisting of or containing a name of God and āhāra-niyama restriction of diet,  are also only aids that restrain the mind, but will not bring about its annihilation. 

Both by mūrti-dhyāna and by mantra-japa the mind gains ēkāgratā -one-pointedness. Just as if one gives a chain in the trunk of an elephant, which is always moving - swinging about trying to catch hold of something or other, that elephant will proceed grasping it without grasping anything else, in exactly that way the mind, which is always moving - wandering about thinking of something or other - will, if one makes it habituated to holding on any one name or form, remain grasping it alone without thinking unnecessary thoughts about anything else. 

Because of the way in which the mind spreads out as innumerable thoughts, forever scattering its energy, each thought becomes extremely weak.

When thoughts reduce and reduce, for the mind which, gaining ēkāgra-taṉmai - one-pointed nature, has thereby gained strength ātma-vicāra [self-investigation] will easily be accomplished. 

By mita sāttvika āhāra-niyama - the restriction of consuming only sattva-conducive food in moderate quantities - which is the best among all restrictions, the sattva-guṇa, that quality of ‘being-ness’, calmness and clarity in the mind, comes to flourish, and this supports the prolonged focus needed for self-investigation to succeed. 

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās - our inclinations to experience things other than oneself, which come from time immemorial, rise as thoughts or phenomena in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna: self-attentiveness, contemplation on one’s ‘own form’ or real nature increases and increases in its depth and intensity. 

Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘So many vāsanās ceasing, is it possible to be only as svarūpa, my real nature?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness. However great a sinner one may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’ one completely rejects the thought that one is a sinner and is steadfast in self-attentiveness, one will certainly be transformed into what one actually is.

As long as viṣaya-vāsanās exist within the mind, so long is the investigation who am I necessary. As and when thoughts appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā - investigation or keen self-attentiveness, in the very place from which they arise. Not attending to anything other than oneself is vairāgya - dispassion or detachment or nirāśā - desirelessness; not leaving, nor letting go of oneself is jñāna - true knowledge or real awareness. In truth, these two - vairāgya  (detachment) and jñāna (self-awareness) are just one. 

Just as pearl-divers, tying stones to their waists and sinking, pick up pearls that are found at the bottom of the ocean, so each one, sinking deep within oneself with vairāgya - that freedom from desire to be aware of anything other than oneself, may obtain ātma-muttu, the self-pearl, meaning the pearl that is one’s own real nature. 

If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa - self-remembrance - until one attains svarūpa, one’s own real nature, namely oneself as one actually is, that alone is sufficient. So long as enemies namely viṣaya-vāsanās are within the fortress - namely one’s heart, they will be continuously coming out from it. 

If one is continuously destroying all of them as and when they come, the fortress will eventually be captured.

God and guru are in truth not different. 

Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly in accordance with the path that guru has shown.

Ramana Maharshi

The Cultivation of Trust 

Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ - one who is firmly fixed as oneself, giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any other cintana - thought - except ātma-cintana - thought of oneself: self-contemplation or self-attentiveness, that alone is giving oneself to God. Even though one places whatever amount of burden upon God, that entire amount he will bear. Since one paramēśvara śakti - supreme ruling power or power of God is driving all kāryas - whatever needs or ought to be done or to happen, instead of we also yielding to it, why to be perpetually thinking, ‘it is necessary to do like this; it is necessary to do like that’? 

Though we know that the train is going bearing all the burdens, why should we who go travelling in it, instead of remaining happily leaving our small luggage placed on the train, suffer bearing our luggage on our head?

What is called sukha - happiness, satisfaction, joy, ease, comfort or pleasantness - is only the svarūpa - the ‘own form’ or real nature of ātmā oneself; sukha and ātma-svarūpa - one’s own real nature - are not different. Ātma-sukha.
Happiness that is Oneself alone exists; that alone is real. 

What is called sukha - happiness - is not found in even one of the objects of the world. 

We think that happiness is obtained from them because of our avivēka - lack of judgement, discrimination or ability to distinguish one thing from another. 

When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, it experiences duḥkha  - dissatisfaction, discomfort, uneasiness, unpleasantness, unhappiness, distress, suffering, sorrow, sadness, pain or affliction. 

In truth, whenever our thoughts. wishes or hopes are fulfilled, it is the mind turning back to its proper place - the heart, our real nature, which is the source from which it rose - and it experiences only ātma-sukha happiness which is oneself. 

Likewise at times of sleep, samādhi, a state of manōlaya or temporary dissolution of mind brought about by prāṇāyāma or other such yōga practices, and fainting, and when anything liked is obtained, and when destruction, damage, elimination or removal, occurs to anything disliked, the mind becoming antarmukham - inward facing - experiences only ātma-sukha

In this way the mind wanders about incessantly, going outside leaving oneself, and again turning back inside. 

At the foot of a tree the shade is pleasant and delightful. Outside the heat of the sun is severe or harsh. A person who is wandering outside is cooled literally, obtains coolness or cooling, by going into the shade. After a short while emerging outside, but being unable to bear the severity of the heat, he again comes to the foot of the tree. So he remains, going from the shade into the sunshine, and going back from the sunshine into the shade. 

A person who does thus is an avivēki  - someone lacking judgement, discrimination or ability to distinguish. But a vivēki - someone who can judge, discriminate or distinguish - will not depart leaving the shade. Likewise the mind of the jñāni - one who is aware of one’s real nature] will not depart leaving brahman - that which alone exists, namely pure awareness, which is infinite happiness and one’s own real nature. 

But the mind of the ajñāni, one who is not aware of one’s real nature, remains experiencing duḥkha - dissatisfaction or suffering - by roaming about in the world, and for a short while obtaining sukha - satisfaction or happiness by returning to brahman

What is called the world is only thought - because like any world that we experience in a dream, what we experience as the world in this waking state is nothing but a series of perceptions, which are just thoughts or mental phenomena. 

When the world disappears, that is, when thought ceases, the mind experiences happiness; when the world appears, it experiences duḥkha - dissatisfaction or suffering.

Just as with in the mere presence of the sun,... 

which rose without

icchā - liking, wish or desire,

saṁkalpa - desire, volition or intention or

yatna - effort or exertion, 

and just like in front of a magnet a needle moving, jīvas - sentient beings, who are subject to/ ensnared in muttoṙil the threefold function of God, namely the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world or pañcakṛtyas - the five functions of God, namely creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and grace,
which happen by just or nothing more than the special nature of the presence of God, who is saṁkalpa rahitar one who is devoid of any volition or intention, move - exert or engage in activity and subside - cease being active, become still or sleep in accordance with their respective karmas...that is, in accordance not only with their prārabdha karma or destiny, which impels them to do whatever actions are necessary in order for them to experience all the pleasant and unpleasant things that they are destined to experience, but also with their karma-vāsanās, their inclinations to think, speak and act in particular ways, which dispose them to make effort to experience pleasant things and to avoid experiencing unpleasant things. 

Nevertheless, he - God - is not saṁkalpa sahitar - one who is connected with or possesses any volition or intention; not even one karma does adhere to him; so, he is not bound or affected in any way by any karma or action whatsoever. That is like the actions happening here on earth not affecting the sun, and like the qualities and defects of the other four elements - earth, water, air and fire - not adhering to the all-pervading space.

Since in every text of advaita vēdānta it is said that for attaining mukti 

it is necessary to make the mind cease, after ascertaining that manōnigraha - restraint, subjugation or destruction of the mind - alone is the ultimate purpose of such texts, there is no benefit to be gained by studying texts without limit. 

For making the mind cease it is necessary to investigate oneself to see who one actually is. Investigating texts won't reveal one's true nature, no, instead it is necessary to know oneself only by one’s own eye of jñāna - pure awareness. Does a person called Raman need a mirror to know himself as Raman?

‘Oneself’ is within the pañca-kōśas - the ‘five sheaths’ that seem to cover and obscure what one actually is, namely the physical body, life, mind, intellect and will; whereas texts are outside them. Therefore, investigating in texts to know oneself, whom it is necessary to investigate by turning one’s attention within and thereby separating from all the pañca-kōśas, is useless. 

By investigating who is oneself who is in bondage, knowing one’s yathārtha svarūpa actual own nature alone is mukti - liberation. 

The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ only refers to always keeping the mind on ātmā - oneself; whereas dhyāna meditation is considering oneself to be sat-cit-ānanda brahman - the one ultimate reality, which is existence-awareness-happiness. At a certain time it will become necessary to forget all that one has learnt.

Just as one who needs to sweep up and throw away trash would derive no benefit by analysing it, so one who needs to know oneself will derive no benefit by, instead of collectively rejecting all the tattvas (aspects of reality that constitute human experience), which are concealing oneself, calculating that they are this many and examining their qualities. It is necessary to consider the world which is believed to be an expansion or manifestation of such tattvas like a dream.

Besides the saying that waking is dīrgha - long lasting, and dream is kṣaṇika - momentary or lasting for only a short while, there is no other difference between them. To what extent all the vyavahāras - activities, affairs, transactions or events. that happen in waking seem to be real, to that extent even the vyavahāras that happen in dream seem at that time to be real. In dream the mind takes another body to be itself. In both waking and dream thoughts and names-and-forms - the phenomena that constitute the seemingly external world occur simultaneously.

There are not two minds, namely a good mind and a bad mind. Mind is only one. 

Only vāsanās - inclinations or propensities are of two kinds, namely śubha - agreeable, virtuous or good and aśubha - disagreeable, wicked, harmful or bad. 

When mind is under the sway of śubha vāsanās it is said to be a good mind, and when it is under the sway of aśubha vāsanās a bad mind. However bad other people may appear to be, disliking them is not proper nor appropriate. Likes and dislikes are both fit for one to dislike. spurn or renounce. It is not appropriate to let one’s mind dwell excessively on worldly matters. To the extent possible, it is not appropriate to intrude in others’ affairs

All that one gives to others one is giving only to oneself. If one knew this truth, who indeed would remain without giving?

If one rises or appears as ego or mind, everything rises or appears; if one subsides - disappears or ceases, everything subsides - disappears or ceases. To whatever extent we are humble in how we conduct ourselves, to that extent there is goodness, benefit and virtue. 

If one is continuously restraining the mind, wherever one may be one can be.

#According to Bhagavan’s core teachings, the body and world are both mental creations, so they seem to exist only so long as they are perceived by ego, which is the root and core of the mind, and hence they do not exist when the mind has subsided in sleep. For those who are willing to accept this teaching, the idea that ‘in sleep, even though the mind has ceased, the prāṇa does not cease’ is not an issue, because if the existence of the body (and hence of the prāṇa that animates it) is dependent upon the existence of the mind, it is clear that in sleep ‘when the mind ceases the prāṇa also [...] ceases’, as he said explicitly in the previous sentence.

Therefore, if these three interpolated sentences were something that Bhagavan actually said, he presumably said so in reply to someone who objected to the previous sentence, arguing that when a person is sleeping others can see him or her breathing, in which case he would have said this as a concession to their limited understanding, seeing that they were not willing to accept his teaching that the body, prāṇa, world and all other phenomena seem to exist only in the view of ego, and hence they cease to exist whenever the mind ceases to exist, as in dreamless sleep.