This afternoon, a visitor asked Bhagavan, “No doubt the method taught by Bhagavan is direct. But it is so difficult. We do not know how to begin it. If we go on asking, ‘Who am I?’ ‘Who am I?’ like a japa, with ‘Who am I?’ for mantra, it becomes dull. In other methods, there is something preliminary and positive with which one can begin and then go step by step. But in Bhagavan’s method, there is no such thing, and to seek the Self at once, though direct, is difficult.”
Bhagavan: “You yourself concede it is the direct method. It is the direct and easy method. When going after other things, alien to us, is so easy, how can it be difficult for one to go to one’s own Self? You talk of ‘Where to begin’. There is no beginning and no end. You are yourself the beginning and the end. If you are here and the Self somewhere else, and you have to reach that Self, you may be told how to start, how to travel and then how to reach. Suppose you who are now in Ramana Asramam ask, ‘I want to go to Ramana Asramam. How shall I start and how to reach it?’, what is one to say? A man’s search for the Self is like that. He is always the Self and nothing else. You say ‘Who am I?’ becomes ajapa. It is not meant that you should go on asking ‘Who am I?’ In that case, thought will not so easily die. All japas are intended, by the use of one thought, the mantra, to exclude all other thoughts. This, japa eventually does for a man. All other thoughts, except the thought of the mantra, gradually die and then even that one thought dies. Our Self is of the nature of japa. Japa is always going on there. If we give up all thoughts, we shall find japa is always there without any effort on our part. In the direct method, as you call it, by saying ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ you are told to concentrate within yourself where the I-thought (the root of all other thoughts) arises. As the Self is not outside but inside you, you are asked to dive within, instead of going without, and what can be more easy than going to yourself? But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal. That is why so many different methods have been taught. Each of them will appeal to some as the best and easiest. That is according to their pakva or fitness. But to some, nothing except the vichara marga will appeal. They will ask, ‘You want me to know or to see this or that. But who is the knower, the seer?’ Whatever other method may be chosen, there will be always a doer. That cannot be escaped. Who is that doer must be found out. Till that, the sadhana cannot be ended. So eventually, all must come to find out ‘Who am I?’. You complain that here is nothing preliminary or positive to start with. You have the ‘I’ to start with. You know you exist always, whereas the body does not exist always, e.g., in sleep. Sleep reveals that you exist even without a body. We identify the ‘I’ with a body, we regard the Self as having a body, and as having limits, and hence all our trouble. All that we have to do is to give up identifying our Self with the body, with forms and limits, and then we shall know ourselves as the Self that we always are.”
The visitor further asked, “May I believe that there is nothing more to be known now, so far as the technique of sadhana is concerned, than that which has been written in your books from time to time? This question arises from the fact that, in all other systems of sadhana, the sadguru unfolds some secret technique of meditation to his disciple at the time of initiation or diksha, as it is called.”
Bhagavan: There is nothing more to be known than what you find in books. No secret technique. It is all an open secret, in this system.
Visitor: If, even after God-realisation, one has to pay attention to his bodily needs such as hunger, sleep, rest, heat and cold, of what use is Self-realisation? This state is something, which cannot be called completeness.
Bhagavan: What will be the state after Self-realisation? Why should you bother about it now? Attain Self-realisation. and then see for yourself. But why go to the state of Self-realisation? Even now, are you without Self? And are all these things, eating, sleeping, etc., without or apart from the Self?