Beyond the I Am

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

When a student asked Maharaj, “Who are you?”, Maharaj replied, “Nothing perceivable or conceivable.”
In other words if you can perceive it or conceive it, it was not you, therefore discard it.
For those who were there to understand and gather more “spiritual” information, (spiritual concepts) he said, “If you can forget it or remember it, it is not you therefore discard it.”
Simply stated, discard all perceivable and conceivable as Not this, Not this.
And “Stay in the consciousness as a portal to the Absolute”.
At first blush this seemed simple. Metaphorically like peeling an onion until nothing is left as the mind begins to unpack itself. Or, like pulling a string and thread in a ball of yarn.
By finding the organizing string and pulling it, the ball of yarn would unravel. In the same way Maharaj would direct “your” attention to “your” concepts or state “you” were in and thereby bring about the unravelling of the mind and its most cherished concepts, (and believe me Maharaj knew how to pull your string!!!)


Nothing Is Everything
Stephen H. Wolinsky

Instructions for Self-Enquiry

Instructions for Self-Enquiry



Annamalai Swami was a Self-realized disciple of Ramana Maharshi. We have taken the following excerpt from David Godman’s book Living by the Words of Bhagavan. The title used here, “Instructions for Self-Enquiry,” does not appear in the book.

Bhagavan [Sri Ramana Maharshi] has said: ‘When thoughts arise stop them from developing by enquiring, “To whom is this thought coming?” as soon as the thought appears. What does it matter if many thoughts keep coming up? Enquire into their origin or find out who has the thoughts and sooner or later the flow of thoughts will stop.’

This is how self-enquiry should be practiced.

When Bhagavan spoke like this he sometimes used the analogy of a besiged fort.
If one systematically closes off all the entrances to such a fort and then picks
off the occupants one by one as they try to come out, sooner or later the fort
willl be be empty. Bhagavan said that we should apply these same tactics to the mind. How to go about doing this? Seal off the entrances and exits to the mind by not reacting to rising thoughts or sense impressions. Don’t let new ideas, judgements, likes, dislikes, etc. enter the mind, and don’t let rising thoughts flourish and escape your attention. When you have sealed off the mind in this way, challenge each emerging thought as it appears by asking, ‘Where have you come from?’ or ‘Who is the person who is having this thought?’ If you can do this continuously, with full attention, new thoughts will appear momentarily and then disappear.
If you can maintain the siege for long enough, a time will come when no more
thoughts arise; or if they do, they will only be fleeting, undistracting images on the periphery of consciousness. In that thought-free state you will begin to experience yourself as consciousness, not as mind or body.

However, if you relax your vigilance even for a few seconds and allow new thoughts to escape and develop unchallenged, the siege will be lifted and the mind will regain some or all of its former strength.

In a real fort the occupants need a continuous supply of food and water to hold out during a siege. When the supplies run out, the occupants must surrender or die. In the fort of the mind the occupants, which are thoughts, need a thinker to pay attention to them and indulge in them. If the thinker witholds his attention from rising thoughts or challenges them before they have a chance to develop, the thoughts will all die of starvation. You challenge them by repeatedly asking yourself ‘Who am I? Who is the person who is having these thoughts?’ If the challenge is to be effective you must make it before the rising thought has had a chance to develop into a stream of thoughts.

Mind is only a collection of thoughts and the thinker who thinks them.
The thinker is the ‘I’-thought, the primal thought which rises from the Self before all others, which identifies with all other thoughts and says, ‘I am this body’. When you have eradicated all thoughts except for the thinker himself by ceaseless enquiry or by refusing to give them any attention, the ‘I’-thought sinks into the Heart and surrenders, leaving behind it only an awareness of consciousness. This surrender will only take place when the ‘I’-thought has ceased to identify with rising thoughts. While there are still stray thoughts which attract or evade your attentoin, the ‘I’-thought will always be directing its attention outwards rather than inwards. The purpose of self-enquiry is to make the ‘I’-thought move inwards, towards the Self. This will happen automatically as soon as you cease to be interested in any of your rising thoughts.

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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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