Aids To Self Enquiry: By Alan Jacobs

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

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“Those who leave the path of Self Enquiry, the way of liberation, and wander off along the myriad forest tracks, will encounter only confusion”. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi


Self Enquiry is the Direct Path and Bhagavan’s great contribution for the modern age for all. Self Enquiry is the backbone of the main weapon in Bhagavan’s teaching for eliminating the vasanas, tendencies and vrittis, the thought forms which act as a veil and occlude your Real Self.Total Surrender will also achieve the goal, but this way is slower as in the beginning we are only capable of partial Surrender.

To start Self Enquiry is not easy! We must have a very great yearning and strong wish to commence. Pray for grace in this respect. It starts with the mind , turning inwards at 180 degrees and with concentration probing inward, beneath the skin, to find the source of the I Thought or ego.

Many find the right side of the chest is an effective doorway to enter the interior and eventually the heart, where the source of the ego dwells.

The first aid is therefore to increase our power of concentration, without thought interfering. Most concentration spans are about 4 minutes. One can increase its power by practice. Gaze at a portrait of Bhagavan, or a candle or a spot on the wall to increase the power of your concentration for longer periods. It will help you all through your life!

The next aid is study. One must read about Self Enquiry as Bhagavan taught it. His two essays WHO AM I and SELF ENQUIRY are essential. They can be downloaded from this site or read from Collected Works. Read them over and over again until they have sunk in. They are not very long. Then one can read from the index on Self Enquiry in Talks With Ramana Maharshi – which can also be downloaded from the main Ramanasramam site as can David Godman’s Be As You Are , from his site, which has three chapters in his book on S.E.


1. It could be holding the breath , to stop thought and diving into the heart to find the source of the I thought, or just diving without holding the breath. (see my article on Diving Into the Heart on this site.

2. It could be questioning when thoughts or emotions arise, and asking “to whom does this thought or feeling come? – to me” Then ask “who am I?”, with attention again seeking for the source of the I thought.

3. It could be paying attention to The Self- Self attention- or paying attention to awareness, or being Aware of your own Awareness.

4. It could be holding onto your ‘Real I thought’ (not the I am the body thought) or your feeling of the essential I AMNESS, with attention, whenever it arises.

5. Repeat I-I-I-I as a mantra. it will take you there eventually.

6. Recite ytour favourite Mantra and then trace back to where the source of the mantra comes from. Perseverance, continued practice and great faith are needed. Each time you enquire, it will gradually loosen identification with the mind and body and start the severing of the Granthi Knot which holds the ‘I am the body, notion.” Your Self, the inner Guru will guide you, and modify the practice as needed. Adjustments will be made so that vasanas come out (Self Enquiry is a purifying practice), the nadis churned and the granthi knot eventually severed (See Bhagavan’s Essay Self Enquiry)

Self Enquiry is linked to devotion, it must become emotional not only from the head or mind, and then it is easier to reach to the source of the I thought.

For those who want to use a radical approach, my own practice, read my Essay enttitled Diving Into The Heart on this site.

Read the beginning quote once again please.

SELF ENQUIRY IS THE DIRECT APPROACH TO SELF REALISATION. It is His great gift, made available to all, pray for his Grace to initiate and guide you into the most suitable approach for you.

Questions on Self Enquiry can be posted on: Alan Jacobs Advaita Vedanta.





Books Recommended by Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi

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Rare Books Beloved by Sri Ramana Maharshi

Kaivalya Navanitam – (Cream of Liberation)

The profound text so highly regarded by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharsh.

 Kaivalya Navaneeta - Sri Ramana Maharshi
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Ribhu Gita

Bhagavan Ramana’s often referred to the Ribhu Gita in his talks with devotees and seekers, and he is reported to have said that if one repeatedly read Chapter 26 of the Ribhu Gita one could pass spontaneously into Samadhi, or the natural state of Self-realization.

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Ashtavakra Gita

Bhagavan said, ‘Because Brahma Jnana is not something external, which is somewhere faraway where you can go and get it, you cannot say that it will take so long or so short a time to attain it. It is always with you. . . . All that is necessary is to surrender yourself completely to the Guru, to surrender your notion of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ ….”

 Ashtavakra Gita,
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Ellam Ondre

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi said, “If you want liberation, write, read, and practice the instructions in Ellam Ondre.

 Ellam Ondre - (All is One)
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Yoga Vasishtam

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi used to refer to Yoga Vasishta frequently and has even incorporated six couplets from it in His Supplement to Forty Verses (verses 21 to 27).
 Yoga Vasishta Maha Ramayana
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Advaita Bodha Deepika or The Lamp of Non-Dual Knowledge

One of the few books highly spoken of by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

 Advaita Bodha Deepika or The Lamp of Non Dual Knowledge
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Sorupa Saram (also known as Swarupa Saram when it is spelt in the Sanskrit way)


This work was so highly valued by Bhagavan, he included it on a list of six titles that he recommended to Annamalai Swami. Since the other five were Kaivalya Navaneetam, Ribhu Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, Ellam Ondre, and Yoga Vasishta, Sorupa Saram is in distinguished company.



 Sorupa Saram - The Essence of One's True Nature

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Tripura Rahasya – (The Mystery Beyond the Trinity)

“Tripura Rahasya or the Mystery Beyond the Trinityis” an ancient prime text on Advaita in Sanskrit and was highly commended by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for study by seekers.


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Maha Yoga or the Upanishadic Lore

In this book the author passes the philosophical portion of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching through the Advaitic acid-test, and then declares the teaching to be genuine coin of the  Advaitic realm.

 Maha Yoga

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Gems from Bhagavan – HAPPINESS

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

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ALL BEINGS DESIRE HAPPINESS ALWAYS,happiness without a tinge of sorrow. At the same time everybody loves himself best. The cause for love is only happiness. So, that happiness must lie within oneself. Further, that happiness is daily experienced by everyone in sleep when there is no mind. To attain that natural happiness one must know oneself. For that, Self-enquiry, ‘Who am I?’ is the chief means.
Happiness is the nature of the Self. They are not different. The only happiness there is, is of the Self. That is the truth. There is no happiness in worldly objects. Because of our ignorance we imagine we derive happiness from them.
If, as a man generally imagines, his happiness is due to external causes, it is reasonable to conclude that his happiness must increase with the increase of possessions and diminish in proportion to their diminution. Therefore, if he is devoid of possessions his happiness should be nil. What, however, is the real experience of man? Does it confirm this view? In deep sleep the man is devoid of all possessions, including his own body. Instead of being unhappy he is quite happy. Everyone desires to sleep soundly. The conclusion therefore is that happiness is inherent in man and is not due to external causes. One must realize his Self in order to open the store of unalloyed happiness.
There is a story in Panchadasi, which illustrates that our pains and pleasures are not due to facts but to our concepts.