Ramana Maharshi and the most important question in life

India is an amazing country and unique in several aspects. For example, in every age great spiritual personalities appear who are aware of their true nature and act as guides to the truth. One such outstanding personality in recent times was Ramana Maharshi, who left his body in April 1950 at the foot of Arunachala Hill in Tiruvannamalai. His teaching is as up to date as it can be. He has distilled the essence of India’s ancient wisdom into one single question. It is the ultimate science and the ultimate fulfilment: to know “Who am I?”

What made this man so special, who sat for years mostly silently on a couch, wearing only a loin cloth? What is the reason that even today many well-known spiritual teachers consider him to be their inspiration? Why do so many people from all over the world keep coming to the place where he had lived – over 60 years after his death?

The reason is that the name Ramana Maharshi guarantees for quality in a field where impostors also roam. His life is an open book. And whoever reads in it will be touched by his simplicity and compassion.

Ramana Maharshi was above average. Yet he would not agree. He saw clearly and stressed it all his life: the essence in everyone is the same as in him – the one, eternal Atman, in English translated as ‘Self’, ‘real I’ or ‘pure consciousness’. This continuous, ever-present I is the only ‘thing’ that truly exists. Everything else is nothing but insubstantial, fleeting thoughts – the countless personal egos and the great, big world included.

Ramana was 16 when he experienced this out of the blue. Until then he was a normal boy, tall, strong, a good football player and swimmer. In studies also he was not bad thanks to his phenomenal memory.
Then suddenly, one afternoon, he experienced a terrible fear that he was going to die ‘right now’. He was healthy and the fear inexplicable, yet very real. He was lying down and observed what was happening. On that afternoon he realised that there was an eternal I present in him that cannot die. From then on, this I kept drawing his attention. It was incredibly attractive, fascinating and most beloved. Even playing football had lost its charm for him.

Six weeks later he secretly left his home and went to the holy Arunachala hill. He reached there on September 1st, 1896, threw away his clothes except the loin cloth, had his head shaven and went into deep meditation for weeks together in a dark dungeon beneath the temple in Tiruvannamalai.

Sheshadri Swami, a well-known saint in Tiruvannamalai, noticed him, carried him out and looked after him. Ramana had festering wounds from the vermin in that cellar and from stones which boys had thrown at him to find out whether he was real or a statue, as one of them later confessed.

Ramana stayed about four years at the foot of Arunachala and then moved higher up on the mountain to the Virupaksha cave. Wherever he went now, people followed him. They simply sat with him in silence; even children ran up the hill and sat with him quietly. His glance was full of peace. He seemed absorbed in the pure Being that is the basic reality of all appearances. But now he remained conscious of his environment. The trance states became less frequent. Yet he still did not talk.

The news spread that there was an extraordinary young swami up on the hill and more people came to see him – people who had been on the spiritual path for years, who had read books, met gurus, practised sadhana and yet had not found inner peace. Among them were some who had themselves already followers, like Ganapathy Muni, a famous, brilliant scholar and poet.

Ganapathy Muni was one year elder to Ramana and not yet 30, when he climbed up the hill in the midday sun. He knew the scriptures and had practised almost all possible methods but had reached a dead end. “What is the right striving for self-realisation?” he asked Ramana who sat alone on his veranda. Ramana wrote down the answer: “Observe from where the I-feeling emerges. Go to its source. If you go to this source, you will dissolve in it. That is the right striving for self-realisation.”

This was one of the first instructions of Ramana Maharshi.

Ramana stayed for 17 years in the Virupaksha cave and five more years in a cave, called Skandashram, further up on Arunachala. Now, several people lived with him, among them his mother and younger brother.
In September 1896 his mother had not resigned herself to the fate that her son had disappeared. She did everything to find him and four years later she stood before him. Yet her plea to come home did not meet with success. Ramana wrote for her on a chit:

….what is destined not to happen, will not happen even if one does everything to make it happen and what is destined to happen, will happen even if one does everything to prevent it. That is certain….

Several years later, after her eldest son had died, his mother came to Ramana and stayed with him till she died. After her death in 1922, Ramana moved to the foot of Arunachala on the southern side, where slowly an ashram came up, because people wanted to stay near him. Some years earlier he had started to talk and now he became the great teacher as whom the world knows him.

Paul Brunton, an Englishman, had travelled in India in the 1930s and had, on the recommendation of the highly revered Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati of Kanchipuram, come to meet Ramana. Brunton was greatly impressed by him. Through his book “Search in Secret India”, Brunton made Ramana known in the west. Foreigners now also found their way to the ashram, among them well-known personalities, like Sommerset Maugham and Maurice Friedman.

Ramana Maharshi showed a direct way: “Find out who you are”, was his advice. It is the core of his teaching. Many might have noticed only then that they did not really know themselves and that the ideas they held were not tenable when deeply questioned. Was it possible that they were something completely different from what they thought they were?

Ramana Maharshi pushed every questioner back to face himself. Paul Brunton for example had asked some questions.
Maharshi: “Who is the I who asks this question?”
Brunton: “I, Paul Brunton.”
Maharshi: “Do you know him?”
Brunton: “All my life.”
Maharshi: “That refers only to the body. Who are you?

A thread runs through whatever Ramana Maharshi says:
There is only one Atman (I or Self). Everybody is That. Always. Ever. Right now. Everybody is basically perfect. Nothing is to be attained. Everybody is always only the one Self. The whole point is to get rid of a wrong idea – the idea that ‘I’ am this separate person and this body.

Thoughts are the cause for this feeling that one is the body. Thoughts dim the splendour of the Self, foremost among them the I-thought, which is the basis of all other thoughts. There is not a big I and a small I next to it. There is only one real I, from which an I-thought regarding the individual emerges. This I-thought has no substance. It is not real, yet it pretends to be the real I. This insubstantial I is the basis for everything that happens in our life and in our world. Everything revolves around this personal I which is nothing but thought.

This individual, thought-based I exists only in the waking state. In deep sleep it is not there. Yet I am no doubt continuously there – in waking, dreaming and sleeping. The personal, pseudo I emerges from the real I on waking up.

Ramana advised to make use of the moment of waking up. The awareness of ‘I’ or ‘I am’ appears a little before thoughts regarding the world crowd the mind. This short transition is ideal to realise the truth because the I-thought without the trail of other thoughts is the source that Ramana had mentioned in his instruction to Ganapathy Muni. “Find out its source and remain there,” he had advised. And added, “That is all what you can do. From then on you are helpless. No kind of effort can get you further. From then on, That which is beyond thoughts and which is present in everyone takes over. Nobody is without this all powerful and all-knowing Atman. It is the ever present inner guru.

An incident illustrates the power of the inner guru:
A devotee of Ramana Maharshi found himself once in a life-threatening situation. Anguished, he cried out for help to his guru. Ramana appeared to him and saved him.
On his next visit to the ashram, the devotee asked his guru, “Did you know that you came to my rescue at that time?” Ramana replied, “The guru need not know. The one consciousneess takes that particular form that the devotee calls out for and that is dearest to him.”

Some of Ramana Maharshi’s listeners were worried, whether they would be able to function normally after self-realisation, probably having his early trance states in mind. But Ramana Maharshi cleared their doubts:
An actor dresses, acts and feels the role which he plays, but he knows that in real life, he is not that role but someone else. The fact that the actor knows who he truly is, does not obstruct him playing his role well. In the same way, remaining in the Self will not be an obstruction to fulfil one’s duties with care.

Ramana took the analogy even further: in the same way, as the role of an actor is determined, so are the actions of a body. Does this mean the individual has no free will? He clarified: As long as one considers oneself to be an individual person, one has free will and has to use it well – and this concerns probably all of us. On the other hand, Ramana claimed, “the purpose of one’s birth will be fulfilled whether you will it or not.” And then intriguingly added: “Let the purpose fulfil itself.”

If this sounds confusing, he once explained that the whole discussion about free will is basically irrelevant, and gave an analogy of his times: people listen to a song from a radio. Then they discuss whether the person sitting in the radio can sing as he wants or whether he has to sing as the radio station decides….
Well, only small children will believe there is a person in the radio. There is no person. Similarly, there is only the one Consciousness, Atman, that shines through each person. So when there is in truth no separate individual, the question whether this individual has free will is indeed irrelevant.

Ramana Maharshi was once asked, whether he thinks. He replied that usually he does not think. “But I see you talk to people”, the questioner persisted. “When I talk, of course, I think. But usually I don’t”, he replied. “And I see you read newspaper”, the questioning continued. “When I read newspaper, I think, but normally I don’t”, Ramana answered.

The issue is basically for the ego with its myriad thoughts and feelings to get out of the way for Atman to shine through. How much light of Atman comes through in each bodily form depends mainly on the degree of egolessness. In some persons, the light is dim, in others bright.

Ramana Maharshi was certainly one of those rare cases through whom the light shone brightly. He did not identify with the body and was not compelled to think incessantly.

Shortly before he died he said, “People say that I am going. Where can I go? I am always here.” By ‘here’ he surely did not mean the place at the foot of Arunachala and by ‘I’ not to the person known as Ramana Maharshi.
By Maria Wirth

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96 comments

  1. Luhar Sen · · Reply

    Truly, one of the noblest souls of the last century. Thank you for this wonderful piece, Maria-ji!

  2. Thanks for the excellent article. I started looking for some introductory write-up about Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi yesterday. As I am in US on a visit-trip, I could not find anything. Today the first thing I could read online was this beautiful essay, as I needed it. I have shared it. God is great

  3. Radhika nagrath · · Reply

    vedanta simplified. Who am I? yes thats the real question if we want to know the truth of life otherwise the whole life is spent in illusion. Ramana was really a great saint. thanks maria for connecting us again to the Real through this article

  4. Re: your observation “not compelled to think incessantly” — compulsive thinking of course, afflicts us all so much pervasively that it wouldn’t be right to call it a “syndrome” or anything special.

    Compulsive thinking normality is what makes us normal and what sets Ramana apart. Thanks

    1. Descartian logic states “I think, therefore I am”. However, in Vedanta based processes for becoming Conscious, when one stops thinking, one becomes aware of the Consciousness. Maria ji: thank you for a wonderful article.

      1. Yes, what is considered a great philospoher in the west, is only kindergarten level in India.

  5. Sanjeev · · Reply

    Living in caves for 22 years, wearing only loin cloth, mostly silent, generally not thinking ! Wow , what an ideal person we have. Ask any scientific question to the all knowing atma and you wont get any answer. And what is the use of asking useless questions like who am I and getting irrelevant answers ? Can any society survive on such ideals ? These people are as useless as drug addicts.

    1. Society is comprised of individuals. If every individual is living a healthy and content life, that society is an healthy society. Ramana Maharishi himself never claimed he is an ideal man. He is one who just reached something very profound. We are inspired by him because we wish for that state of existence. If you don’t feel the urge for that, its fine but on what basis you persuade others from pursuing the spiritual path. East or west Man has always contemplated and tried to find answers for the existential questions.

      Science has not brought about any profound change in man’s inner or psychological life. Stress and emotional problems are still prevalent if not everyone faces. Dharmic religions try to address that.

    2. DharmaVidhyan · · Reply

      “what is the use of asking useless questions like who am I”

      “These people are as useless as drug addicts.”

      “peace, bliss, happiness etc. are only experiences without any knowledge value. ”

      “Consciousness is only happy experience with zero knowledge value.”

      “And if every one attains the level of Raman Maharshi and start living in caves without thinking, in total silence – will such a society survive and can such a nation survive ?”

      “I think we have to re-evaluate our ideals. For me lives of spiritualists are not qualitatively different from drug addicts”

      It seems that you have placed yourself on a high horse and talking about something which is not in your experience yet.

      This reflects your own ignorance of the subject matter and your foolishness …

      I hope you will attain wisdom ( nyanam) , humbleness, humility in your life.. For mean time, please excuse yourself from entertaining this blog visitors and subject matter.

      After all, from your viewpoint, we are nothing but “a bunch of useless people who admires another useless spiritual person with his useless lessons of life.”.. There is nothing for you to gain here..

      Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti..

      1. Sanjeev · ·

        For your information, when you say ” you are talking about some thing which is not in your experience yet , without knowing it you admit your experience is nothing but illusion by definition ! Because if I have to demonstrate some thing real, there is verifiable proofs and effects of its reality can be shown on other things. But which has only experience and no other cause and effect or any other effect on any thing, it is nothing but illusion – just like dream. I hope you do not tell others that what you saw in your dream was real and others are on a high horse and talking about some thing which they have not experienced yet (i.e. same thing what you saw in your dream). It only reflects your own ignorance on the subject and your stupidity and immaturity. I hope you will attain wisdom to reply to the points raised by me instead of any personal attack (which is fallacy of thinking – if you know any thing about thinking that is ). It is none of your business to tell any one to excuse himself from entertaining this blog. Any blog is free exchange of views even if they challenge your conventional wisdom and drag you out of your comfort zone and force you to face bitter reality. Either answer the points raised by me to the point or keep quiet if they are beyond your intellectual level. You cannot impose censorship on thinking or views of any one just because they shatter your fond beliefs.

      2. Hi Dharma Vidhyan,
        i can see that your very frustration,, confusion (though you are not aware of it) about yourself and life has lead you to search for some blog and read it. unfortunately your karma is so thick your mind is not able to see the ‘Usefulness’ of this wonderful blog !! may be in next life or in another you may become aware of yourself and recognize the significance of self inquiry teaching by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
        I would say this particular blog has definitely shown me the way towards clarity !

    3. DharmaVidhyan · · Reply

      Dear Sanjeev

      You came here as an opinionated person, and as I said before there is nothing for you to gain in here .

      You have already made up your mind and made the conclusion that all this meditation & spiritual stuffs are totally useless, all those who engage in meditation and spiritual life in this world are nothing but useless people who are equal to drug addicts who lives in a vegetative or brain dead state.

      When I said “please excuse yourself from this site”, that was meant in a friendly manner because you are in the wrong place and asking the wrong questions to the wrong people.

      I did not mean to shoo you away or to impose any censorship on your views. It is just on the intellectual level, you are way far advanced and progressive than rest of us and it will be a waste of your precious time and energy to even engage in a discussion with rest of us.

      Om Shanti, Shanti , Shanti

      1. Is there any negative here ? Just tell me one thing, how do you know what you saw in your dreams was not the reality ? What is your criteria to distinguish reality from illusion ?

      2. You are right I may not gain anything here. But why you assumed I have come here to gain something ? I have come here to give you here. A different point of view to force you to think – to challenge your conventional wisdom which was handed over to you from your childhood and drag you out of your comfort zones to face the reality. There at least one person in this group who will either answer the points raised by me or accept my point of view. If there is at least one honest and intelligent person, it will be worth my effort.

      3. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        And again my reply will still be the same, that there is nobody in this site, whether me, Maria or other visitors to this site or elsewhere are intelligent enough to even comprehend your questions.

        We are simply not up to your standard of your intelligence and intellect. Why do you even want to waste your time and energy to “enlighten” us, it is simply not worth your effort.

        You can’t simply expect apes “in this case us” to appreciate Mozart’s symphony or to comprehend the theory of relativity..

        I as well as others in this site are ” honestly” unable to answer to the points raised by you and mutually agree that all of us are in a brain dead vegetative state.

        So again, I request to you in a friendly manner to “excuse” yourself from this site.

        Om Shanti, Shanti , Shanti

      4. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        Dear Sanjeev,

        It was not an advice, it was just a humble request from me to you.

        Yes, I do admit that I do not have the authority, caliber or intelligence such as yours.

        I am still looking , searching for the deeper truth in my life.
        I am still on the path of seeking and learning new things every day.
        I am still a student in my journey of my life.

        I honestly admit that you are far more intelligent and on the higher intellectual level than me, this is not debatable.

        I do not want Maria’s site to be filled with too much negativity or argument, after all it was a just a boring useless opinion piece of what she felt about Ramana.

        Are you going to argue relating to someone’s opinion?
        That is a very unwise thing to do for someone who is highly intelligent and intellectual like you.

        I am sure you can find someone who is equal to you, someone who is worthy of your time and effort some where else.

        Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

      5. I do not see any reason for your humble request. I do not even know if you represent opinion of every one on this forum. Even if you do, there is no reason for me to pay heed to your request or advice. My opinions are only on take it or leave it basis. Exactly what will happen if some one gives different opinion which you are not able to refute ? Either you will ignore it and stick with your conventional wisdom befitting your understanding or change your views on the subject. So this choice you have to make. Why you want some one like me to never even offer any option or show that any other view exists so that there is no dilemma in your mind ? Do you fear contrary views and facing the truth so much ? Instead of requesting others not to confuse you with their arguments, rather learn to evaluate every thing and then make your opinion. It is unwise and not befitting any student interested in the truth to even refuse to know that some thing different exists. If you are really on the path of looking, searching for the deeper truth, better understand if there are any truths, your stance is contrary to your stated goals in your life. No real seeker of truth will shut his mind to any new thoughts. How will you know if certain thing is true or false unless you at least know of its existence ? Is this your way of seeking truth ? Surely you are following one principle of your guru that is to stop thinking ! Definitely this is not the way any one will learn new things every day.
        And there is only truth and falsehood. There is no question of there being any negativity. Only truth will set you free and that is not negativity. Negativity is only in your mind and prejudice which is preventing you from new knowledge and different outlook. Negativity is when you say you are ignorant ape but insist on remaining so by refusing to think. And argument is regarding the truth. Show me how I am wrong and I am willing to change. Any opinion has to be based on the sound foundation of the truth and not on personal tastes and liking. Intelligent people always challenge the opinions based on falsehood and this is how all the progress in knowledge this human race has made so far. There is no other way.
        Your last advice – that is find some one equal to me. I do not see any reason for that. It is like advising a doctor that there are only sick people here, go find some one who is healthy. Well if there are sick / ignorant people, then there is very good reason for my presence. I would like to share my views freely because I am a real truth seeker. I am not interested in living in a cave of ignorance but breath fresh air of different thoughts which will enrich my intellectual life befitting intelligent person. If any one is really a truth seeker he will listen to all the views – especially which challenge his set opinions and honestly try to answer them or change his opinion. There is no other method of seeking truth.
        So it is up to you to ignore my views or think over them. Do not try to shut them off. And do you really think any intelligent person will entertain requests / advice from ignorant people ?

      6. Sanjeev, would you mind summarizing the question(s) that you want to ask, and/or view(s) that you want to share? Also, is your intent to help, or to seek help, or both?

      7. Do you want me to repeat my postings ? If you read the whole thread, you will get what my views on the subject are. I only want people to consider other point of view too, presented by me, It is up to them to consider the views – evaluate them and accept, refute or ignore them. As a truth seeker, I always like my views evaluated and criticised / corrected with good rational and reasons because it helps me sharpen my understanding of the reality. But the discussion should be on the points raised by me and not whether it hurts any one’s fond beliefs and feelings. That is not my criteria. I am not here to please any one. I believe any intellectual forum is to exchange views to seek truth and it is not a mutual flattery club. If that is psychological need of any one, let them keep a dog. I do not fall in love with my views and I am not married to any dogma. If proved wrong with good reasons, I am always open to change my views. I do not consider that any truth generates negativity. But at the same time there are no holy cows and every holy man and philosophy must be subjected to sharp criticism. Because ultimately truth must prevail. Truth will set you free.

      8. I’ve seen your responses/views spread across and in many places they are filled with meta-comments (i.e., comments (either yours or others) “about” the comments (either yours or others)). Even in your last reply above, there are more meta-comments than the comments/views. I’d have appreciated if you just said ” Do you want me to repeat my postings ? If you read the whole thread, you will get what my views on the subject are.” and stopped there (because that is what all I asked for), but you went on repeating meta-comments.

        In any case, I just wanted to have your views/thoughts in one place and more to the point, so that a clear and real discussion on the subject can happen. If you are suggesting that I need to find and read all your previous posts, then sorry, I’d rather bother not to do all that, and there ends the matter. If not, I hope you would take a bit of pain to repeat your views/thoughts on the subject (without going into meta-views or meta-comments).

      9. OK. At the risk of repetition, I will reproduce the gist of the points raised by me. Give me just two days and I will come back on this subject as I am busy with some other project. I will definitely welcome discussion on this subject if confined to the subject proper;

      10. dharmaVidhyan · ·

        Sanjeev • August 15, 2014 – 2:03 pm •
        “Any opinion has to be based on the sound foundation of the truth and not on personal tastes and liking”
        Sanjeev,

        The way I see is that, all your arguments and criticism starts from a warped understanding of what an personal opinion is.

        A personal opinion is simply an opinion. We are not talking about scientific facts or legal matters here.

        You are simply being overly emotional, dramatic and compulsive here!

        You are entitled to your opinion, and so do we. What is even there to argue about?

        In my opinion, the American did a genocide in WW2 when they nuked Japan.

        Most of the people I knew think otherwise, they are in the opinion that it was this “final” attack that has prevented more prolonged war and casualty.

        I simply do not find any necessity to force the other party to accept my view or to agree upon my opinion. Learn to accept the simple concept of difference of opinion.

        Maria simply wrote what she felt about Ramana and that of the spiritual/meditation tradition.
        In future, she might write about her grandmother and her lovely cooking.
        Will you start to argue on that too? ?

        Your compulsive behavior can be clearly seen right from the beginning when you put up a tantrum and wrote “Is my comment still awaiting moderation ? How much time it takes for comment to appear? Because your comment timed 9.57 a.m. is appearing and my comment timed 9.33 a.m. is still awaiting moderation. Please don’t take upon yourself to decide what people will think, write, read etc. Let all the views flow freely and let every one decide what is good and what is bad without any censorship”

        This is not your blog site in the first place; this is Maria’s ‘personal’ blog!
        This is not a history, science or tech related forum!

        It is up to her to decide what should be published and what not, not you, she get to set the rules, do’s and don’t. Other similar forums and blogs have their own rules and etiquette.

        I am trying very hard to avoid any unnecessary debates in this site and being mild mannered as possible.

        Unfortunately , you are misusing my pacifist attitude and had resorted to name calling and blatant insults.

        If you want a debate to satisfy your “highly intellectual and intelligence” self, please direct us to your own site.

        List down all the wrong “facts” that Maria wrote relating to this topic.
        I and many others are more than happy to reply to your questions in your own site.

      11. “ A personal opinion is simply an opinion. We are not talking about scientific facts or legal matters here. “
        Oh really ? You mean to say there is simply no basis for any opinion and you can simply shoot in the air and have any thing as your opinion and that can not be challenged ? Science is only a method of finding the truth and if your opinion is not based on the truth but falsehood, others can as well demonstrate as to how the opinion is based on wrong assumptions. If we go by your understanding, any opinion can be accepted as valid. Of course that is not true otherwise you would have challenged my opinion.
        “In my opinion, the American did a genocide in WW2 when they nuked Japan. “
        Well I can show very well as to how there is another angle to any event and how your opinion is biased and based on one sided and wrong facts and faulty logic. By showing this I can show how your opinion is not valid and that is how people come to the truth. If you are interested in the truth – that is. When you can make any statement that certain things are ideal and worth following any one can show that what is considered ideal is in fact disastrous and have very bad consequences. If your personal opinion is that drug addiction is ideal we can show its bad effects and show how your personal opinion is wrong. It is as simple as that. Do you find such a simple thing so difficult to understand ? Personal opinions count only in case of abstract things like aesthetics and beauty but not when there are real consequences which are demonstrable like drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking etc. In such cases things do not depend on personal opinions. Do you understand the difference now ?
        “ This is not your blog site in the first place; this is Maria’s ‘personal’ blog! This is not a history, science or tech related forum! “
        My dear friend, blog site is a forum which is open to others. If it is personal, do not put up a blog, Have your personal opinions with yourself. If you choose to put up a bloc, others will express their opinions. In case you do not know, iIn fact that is the purpose of any blog – to invite different opinions. If you do not want others to express opinions, keep a note book instead of a blog and read your own notes leisurely, Nobody will disturb you. You cannot stand on the public platform and declare privacy. And science is only unbiased method of finding the truth. If you say this blog is not about science, you are saying that it is not related with any truth. It only show your poor understanding about science too.
        “I am trying very hard to avoid any unnecessary debates in this site and being mild mannered as possible. Unfortunately , you are misusing my pacifist attitude and had resorted to name calling and blatant insults. “
        My dear friend, I am interested only in intellectual debates on the points raised by me . I am not interested if you are pacifist or otherwise. Name calling and insults is what you started when instead of confining your posting on the subject, you started personal attacks and irrelevant discussion about how you all are apes etc. . So do not flaunt your so called mild manners etc. If you have nothing intellectual to contribute, better keep silent and live in a cave.
        So if you have something intelligent so say, do write, or take your leave promptly. I have no time for self-certified apes as you called yourself.

      12. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        Sigh….

        Sanjeev,

        Everyone is busy with their work and commitments, including you too.

        I don’t want to be accused of saying things out of context, so I will list down your claims with a quote of your own words.
        You are welcomed to correct it if there is any wrong.

        1) You made a claim that Ramana spent most of his life , in a state of no thought ( not thinking)
        Quote “Living in caves for 22 years, wearing only loin cloth, mostly silent, generally not thinking !” Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am

        2) You made a claim that, WHO AM I is a useless question.
        Quote “what is the use of asking useless questions like who am I” Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am

        3) You made a claim that you have asked the all knowing atma, but did not get any answer.
        Quote “Ask any scientific question to the all knowing atma and you wont get any answer” Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am

        4) Ramana is on par of drug addicts.
        Quote “These people are as useless as drug addicts” Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am

        5) You claimed that , qoute “Peace, bliss, happiness etc. which are only experiences without any knowledge value”
        Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 11:38 am

        6) You claimed that , quote “Consciousness is only happy experience with zero knowledge value.”
        Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 11:38 am

        7) You claimed that spiritual practices are wasteful and useless.
        Quote “I am talking about general wasteful practice of spiritualism and state of no thought. Sanjeev • August 6, 2014 – 5:32 am

        8) You made a claim that spiritual practices such as meditation/yoga, quote “will destroy the person, his family , society and the nation”
        Sanjeev • August 6, 2014 – 5:32 am

        9) You made a claim that indian spiritual/ philosophical tradition has no useful contribution at all. Quote “Have they contributed any thing to literature, science, technology, or in any way made the society better in any aspect, Their contribution to the civilization is absolutely zero.”
        Sanjeev • August 6, 2014 – 5:32 am •

        10) You made a claim that the quality of life of those who ventured into spiritual lifestyle are of no different than of drug addicts.
        Qoute” For me lives of spiritualists are not qualitatively different from drug addicts – for themselves as well as the society”
        Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 11:38 am •

        11) You made a claim that , quote “Study of religious scriptures do not give you knowledge and wisdom.”
        Sanjeev • August 9, 2014 – 6:13 am •

        12) You made a claim that , quote” Hindus / Vedic rishis have another set of silly notions about this universe like ‘you are not body’, immortal soul, all knowing soul, reincarnation and mechanism judging your actions and giving you fruit accordingly.” Sanjeev • August 9, 2014 – 6:13 am •

        Please verify all your above claims/statements , rectify if there is any error.

        Hopefully , and if time permits, we can go on and debate regarding to the above.

      13. You have correctly quoted my claims ! This is exactly what I have stated above.

      14. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        Let me say this earlier, that I have no issue to wait for your reply even if it takes a week or a month.

        If time and situation permits, I will definitely write back. I do encourage others in this site to write as well, if I am late to respond.

        Now regarding to each of your claims , please provide your supporting evidence & facts that has lead to your final conclusion.

        You have made up to 12 statements/claims and the burden of proof, lies on you to back it up accordingly.

        Please include some historical, psychological, scientific studies & reputable research articles & journal as your supporting evidence relating to your claims.

        Eg: DharmaVidhyan claimed that meditation training increases brain efficiency in an attention task.
        Supporting evidence: Journal Of NeuroImage, Volume 59, Issue 1, page 745-749
        Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811911007531#bb0060

        Eg: Sanjeev claimed that Ramana spent his entire life without thinking at all.
        Supporting evidence:: Ramana personally stated that he spent most of his life without thinking.

        Reference: Biography of Ramana Maharshi, Self Realisation: The Life and Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, written by Narasimha Swami 1931, page xyz…

        DharmaVidhyan claimed that the Atman is unable to answer to any scientific question.
        Eg:Supporting evidence: Scientist at John Hopkins University have managed to somehow capture and placed Atman in a advanced brain imaging devices. Several question were asked to the Atman, but the Atman is unable to answer any of them.
        Re: The Johns Hopkins Medical Journal, year 2014, volume 12, page 123

        Please provide evidence for all of your claims in the above manner preferably so that all of us in this site will be able to cross check and learn together in the process.

        Hopefully you will enlighten and bring all of us out from the cave of ignorance. 🙂

        Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
        DharmaVidhyan

      15. Thanks for your patience and rare display of understanding. I am also not in a hurry in getting all the answer immediately. We will exchange views as time and situation permits both of us. Since I cannot answer all the 12 points in one go, I take liberty to answer only one or two points at a time due to constraint of time and space on this blog.

        1) You made a claim that Ramana spent most of his life , in a state of no thought ( not thinking)
        Quote “Living in caves for 22 years, wearing only loin cloth, mostly silent, generally not thinking !” Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am
        This statement is taken from the blog only. Hence no separate proof from my side is required for this.
        2) You made a claim that, WHO AM I is a useless question.
        Quote “what is the use of asking useless questions like who am I” Sanjeev • August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am
        Ans- Who im I – Question
        a. Assumes- existence of atma —– No scientific evidence proving atma
        b- it is separate from body – No scientific evidence something exists outside body. People stating You are Not Body can never it say without the use of body. They cannot demonstrate their existence outside body.
        c- it is immortal … No evidence to show any thing survives physical death.
        d–there is life after death — No scientific evidence for this.
        e–knowing answer to this question makes any difference to the reality. — It assumes if you have knowledge about who am I it will change course of your evolution in the universe. Nature will distinguish between people who are wise knowing who am I and those who do not know who am I. Actually your knowledge or ignorance does not affect any cycle in the nature and it has its own physical rules of evolution.
        f. Assumes – you have to take into account cycle of nature for deciding ideals and aims of your life. … What happens to your body, (atoms, molecules etc.) is totally different cycle of nature and ideals and aims of your life do not depend on any cycle in nature.
        g. For any success in your life asking this question does not show any distinctive advantage in any field. On the contrary it can be shown such people are not fit for survival due to their attitude and conduct in life. Such societies can be easily conquered and enslaved.
        h. So the big questions will be exactly what have the people who asked this question achieved and spending so much energy and time searching for answer to this question ? And what was lost by the people who did not spend any time on this question ?
        i. Historically people have spent a lot of time asking wrong question and trying to find their answers. E.g. in some African tribes, whenever any one dies, the only questions asked are by which black magic he died and who is the person who did the black magic. For them idea of natural death is just not acceptable.
        j. Spending time and energy on such question is like spending time in video games or skill games like Rubik’s cube. Practically it has no positive impact on your life.

        .

      16. Sanjeev, you say “no scientific evidence for atma”. Ok, but what are scientific evidences utlimately worth? Atmavidya is about the ultimate truth. your body is not there as a body, just as a dance of energy. you simply cannot prove it is there.
        defintion of truth in Tripura Rahasya: that what is in all 3 times and that which does not need anything else to shine. it eliminates the whole universe. what remains is awareness/ energy – atma.

      17. Science is the only unbiased method of arriving at any truth. Since no other method is proved comparable to its truth finding abilities, ultimately it is all we have got. If you believe in any other method, you have to demonstrate it is unbiased and meet all the stringent criteria for arriving at the truth.
        What is your idea of ultimate truth ? Why call it ultimate ? If I can show effects of body, it is considered evidence of its existence. And do you think dance of energy cannot be proved ? Actually mass and energy are interchangeable but it does not give its identity or you cannot say one identity out of the two is only ultimate and other is not.
        You have to prove there exists anything worth calling atma which is in all 3 times and which does not need anything to shine ? It is said matter cannot be created or destroyed so it exists in all 3 times. Will you call it atma ? And what is there is which is not energy nor matter but exists in all the 3 times ? What is your understanding of it does not need anything to shine ? Are you talking about photons ? What if there is black hole which will not allow light to escape and hence will not shine ? Will you claim it is not the truth because it does not shine ? What is so important about shining as far as truth is concerned ?

      18. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        Some clarification is needed here.

        The original article states “What made this man so special, who sat for years mostly silently on a couch, wearing only a loin cloth?” July 29, 2014 · by mariawirthblog

        You have made an additional claim to the original statement by saying “generally not thinking ! ” Sanjeev · August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am

        Please provide any scientific / statistical/ historical proof for your claim.

      19. Quote – Thoughts are the cause for this feeling that one is the body. Thoughts dim the splendour of the Self, Unquote. This is the sentence prompted my comment. It is very much in the article.

      20. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        Sanjeev

        I do not see any scientific evidence/ proof from your answers right from a to j.

        Please scientifically / statistically prove to us that ” WHO AM I” is a useless question.

      21. You have asked a question Who Am I. And I have stated as to why this question is wrong. The burden of proof is on you to state that this question is correct, there is soul, it is different from body, it is immortal, it is all knowing etc. The question assumes these things without any scientific evidence. That is the crux of the issue. You must know the burden of proof is on you when you make these assumptions. Burden of proof is not on the person who questions your assumptions for want of any evidence.

      22. I’d rather disagree with the idea that one’s ideals/aims are not dependent on the process of one’s body. If one eats unhealthy food, it is more or less obvious that one can’t think clearly and thereby can’t have better clarity/quality of one’s aims/ideals. If one spends or dissipates energy here and there in various ways, one can’t have a more worthwhile life. At a deeper level and to a certain extent, the body and the way one lives (where the latter is defined by one’s ideals/aims) do affect each other. A deeper question would be whether there is a common source for both these processes.

        I wonder why the question “who am I?” that is the central subject here should necessarily assume Atma or anything else for that matter. It is just a question, and if one cares, one should try to find the answer. That’s all. I do not see a reason why there should be any assumption about it (or about any other question in general for that matter).

        Coming to the question of how does one say one is not the body without using the body? Well, assuming one says so, do you hear it? Obviously not, because your ears can’t hear such a saying without the use of sound. And the moment you require a saying to be of the form of sound (so that you can hear it) you are pre-supposing a requirement on the existence of the body (or some form of it) which is contradictory to your earlier requirement that one should say it without the use of the body. The two requirements are simply inconsistent with each other.

        And a much more harder thing is regarding Ramana’s thinking (or the absence of it). Well, the question here actually translates to whether there can be thinking without the thinker. If so, what is the nature of such a thinking? This question can not be answered accurately while the thinker exists, and so it is useless to try to find the answer when the thinker exists. At best, the thinker can speculate what the answer might be. And if one asks who is this thinker, then one is asking “who am I?”.

        I hope the above are as rational as any.

      23. Reg. requirement of saying You are No body, without the use of body, no function can be done by You without using the body. So how to verify any thing exists other than your body ? And what is the use of such You if it cannot do any thing and cannot even show it exists without body ? If it affects nothing in your life, it is as good as non-existent. Then why waste time in saying You are not body and spend time on this question? What will happen even if you find the answer (assuming there is any answer )to this question ? Is there any practical use to this question and answer ? Won’t it be correct to call this question useless ?

      24. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        I am not asking any questions to you nor I am putting forward any claim here.
        Last time I’ve checked, I did not come here and preach to everybody that I am going to challenge the conventional wisdom and give a different point of view.

        You came here to challenge the conventional wisdom and replace it with higher ( or your ) wisdom.

        When you put forward a claim that all of this is nonsense and useless, you have to back it up with evidence/scientific facts .

        I hope this is simple enough for you to understand.

        Let me clarify again this with you.

        You have claimed that ” what is the use of asking useless questions like who am I”
        Sanjeev · August 1, 2014 – 9:33 am

        Prove to us that THIS is a useless question, with supporting evidence / facts.

        And why are you jumping from claim 2 to 12.. Please move one at a time.

      25. It seems you have not read my reasoning for asking this question. Since the assumptions behind your question are in question, you have to give justification and scientific reasoning for the same so that your assumptions will be valid and question who am I will be valid. I hope, this time you will understand that for asking the question who am I, the burden of proof is on the person putting up this question.

      26. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        This comment is not a part of the discussion, this is written just for general information.

        The question of “WHO AM I” is a fundamental part of any psychology studies.

        Famous psychologist such as Sigmund Freud , Carl Jung and many others have wrote extensively about this fundamental question of the self.

        These basic self questionnaire (WHO AM I) has helped psychologist to map out behaviors, characters, personality, personality disorders, research into self awareness, and has also helped neuroscientist to figure out specific areas of the brain and types of memory which are related to self awareness.

      27. The concepts and ideas of psychologists were basically for understanding the function of brain called mind. What spiritualists assume is separation of body from function of mind, which is wrong. Also, after the work of psychologists mentioned by you in the last centuries, there is tremendous advancement in science to map the functioning of brain, which covers spiritual experiences like when you feel you are not body.

        Medical research has shown that if you stimulate certain areas of the brain with a small electric current, you can give people the experience of spiritual visitation. You may feel that Jesus is touching your heart, or that the soul of a dead relative is near you. There is no evidence to support a belief in authentic soul travel; however, as all studies indicate that consciousness only exists in the brain cells which create it. You cannot remove consciousness from the physical body because consciousness is a physical phenomena created by chemistry, just as a firefly’s light is created by chemical reactions. That is why you can turn consciousness on or off by injecting a person with drugs to wake them up or to put them to sleep.

        Please also read article on ‘god helmet’, which gives all your spiritual experiences. During meditation the human brain falls back into a simpler vegetative state where complex cerebral capabilities become inactive, and this has been demonstrated by functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (fMRI scans) of the brains of Buddhist monks and Hindu yogis.

        Hence scientifically it is proved that –
        a ) There is no separate existence of soul other than functions of brain
        b) All the characteristics of soul like immortality, all knowing, all peace, all bliss, all happiness are only results of chemical reactions in the brain and no separate identity without brain / body.
        c) Considering the scientific experiments, all the beliefs based on You are not body, Know thyself, All knowing atma are fantasies having no connection with the reality in this universe.

        Considering this, my statements that asking who am I and spending time and energy on this question is only waste of time and achieves nothing are correct.

        All the studies of psychology and behaviour are related with brain only and should be treated as such.

      28. This is regarding Sanjeev’s requirement of proving one is not the body without the use of the body… You seem to have understood the difficulty, but not fully or appropriately. Assuming someone, say X, did prove that X is not the body without using the body, how do you verify such a proof? What tools do have to validate? Things like fMRI? Well, the proof supposedly will not contain anything physical however subtle, so will such equipment be able to detect it? And if it can’t, and if you don’t have any other means, what is the point of asking for a proof if you can’t validate it?

        I’m not saying whether one is the body or not, and whether it can be proved or not. All I’m saying is your demand for such a proof is logically incoherent and practically pointless, at best.

        And you should ask those who has the proof that they are not the body, about its usefulness and what impact it had in their lives. You can’t assume anything (such as it has no use or impact, etc.).

        I hope you argue logically and based on understanding, rather than just based on some half-baked stand-point or theory, and merely repeat that it is all useless.

      29. It is very simple to prove if it really exists. You have to show its effects on other things saying if you are only body so and so thing will happen if you and your body is separate it will result in so and so thing etc. which is different from the condition of body and soul being not separate. and show that these effects are only due to the reason of this separation nothing else, then it will be verification. Otherwise, any belief or superstition can be justified using your so called logic. How you will distinguish reality from falsehood in your belief ? Or any belief even though not proved in any way will be acceptable ? What is your method to distinguish false belief and true belief ? e.g. If I claim there is a invisible demon in the room. If i have to prove it, i will show what is the difference it makes from empty room to the room having invisible demon. If there is simply no difference in both the rooms, I have to justify in that case what is the reason to believe its existence if its existence and non-existence simply makes no difference.

        In fact scientists have found that center in the brain called temporoparietal junction which gives you out of body experience. (read full details here : http://www.medicineonline.com/news/10/13151/Scientists-Spot-Brain-Center-for-Out-of-Body-Experience.html ).

        So your belief that you are not body is only a video game shown by your brain and not the reality. There is nothing holy about it.

      30. I had thought you understood my argument, but apparently have not. Let me try one more, perhaps last, time, in a slightly different way. All the time you are asking “show” “show” “show”… I’m asking how do you “see” if some X does show you? Do you understand the question, or are you too consumed by your own demand? Do not expect some physical effects in this case, because you are requiring that X should not use the body. And let’s not generalize so quickly for “any belief or superstition” as you said, and be specific about the particular proof you are demanding.

      31. sanjeev Kulkarni · ·

        Sorry ! I still do not understand your logic, if any. Show Show Show and reply as see ! Will you please rephrase your argument in reply to the question raised by me ?

  6. Maria Lozano · · Reply

    Grateful to your excellent reminder of Shri Ramana Maharshi, written in such a way that makes us aware of the One and Only I.

    1. Sanjeev · · Reply

      Is my comment still awaiting moderation ? How much time it takes for comment to appear ? Because your comment timed 9.57 a.m. is appearing and my comment timed 9.33 a.m. is still awaiting moderation. Please dont take upon yourself to decide what people will think, write, read etc. Let all the views flow freely and let every one decide what is good and what is bad without any censorship

      1. Sanjeev, don’t worry, i let all comments through, except for two i think from 1400 so far on my blog which were abusive. i am not computer savy, but i think that firsttimers need approval, and this can happen only, when i open the site. it also happened that some comments landed in junk and i realised it only after a few months, as i usually don’t check.

        regarding your observation: persons like Ramana Maharshi are useful in helping to discover a subtle inner state that makes one feel that life is truly worthwhile. maybe you have discovered already, that ‘enjoyment’ does not really do it.

        further, look at people like Srinivasan Ramanujan. if you are able to contact that pure consciousness through whatever ‘method’, like jnana or bhakti or yoga or…, inspiration is more likely to flow. Ramanujan said that his family deity told him the mathematical solutuions…. You may say it is ridiculous, but do you know?
        Maria Wirth

      2. Thanks ! I do not like censorship of any kind on free exchange of ideas – even though unpalatable and bitter and dragging us out of our comfort zones and contradictory to conventional wisdom handed over to us from generation to generation.

        As for usefulness of people like Raman Maharshi and pur consciousness, the usefulness is veru much doubtful. Please read this article for further information and different point of view –
        http://meditation-handbook.50webs.com/math2.html

  7. I see a mature and thoughtful response from Fr Wirth to your suggestion that the matter is not “useful”.

    Sanjeev: If one were to discuss only “useful” ideas, and only “useful” people, mankind would not have progressed this far. For example Number Theory in Pure Mathematics (which Fr Wirth mentions, incidentally as Ramanujan’s field of work) was (and sometimes is) considered a useless branch of mathematics but its usefulness was later proven in matters like Cryptography (which protects your internet banking so that your money is not stolen. I am sure you can understand the usefulness of money, undeniable by its “usefulness”)

    If you say that Ramana the person, described as such, is useless to you personally — well that is a view you have every right to hold. But even such a view is subject to change as you grow in spirit (which eventually happens to every human being).

    And finally, merely sociologically even, human existence has meaning and relevance beyond being useful. For instance, you do not discard your parents when they stop being useful to you any more. Usefulness is also relative; they may be useful to you but useless to almost everyone else (among strictly utilitarian people).

    In summary, I think utilitarianism has very little usefulness when examining Ramana’s life and message. The message goes beyond the mundane plane of living we are all accustomed to.

    1. Sanjeev · · Reply

      You are confused about ‘usefulness’. I am not talking about ‘utility’. Pure science (knowledge) is always judged on how far it helped us in understanding the rules of nature and not its utility in day to day life. That is applied science. But life of drug addict is totally useless. And for that matter lives of spiritual people is not different. Both indulge in peace, bliss, happiness etc. which are only experiences without any knowledge value. Consciousness is only happy experience with zero knowledge value. That is why I had challenged in a different forum whether your so called all knowing atma enlighten us about dark energy, how quantum mechanism works and theory of everything. Scientists are struggling to understand these things for decades without any success. If all knowing atma cannot give us understanding of these things, why call them all knowing ? And if every one attains the level of Raman Maharshi and start living in caves without thinking, in total silence – will such a society survive and can such a nation survive ? I think we have to re-evaluate our ideals. For me lives of spiritualists are not qualitatively different from drug addicts – for themselves as well as the society. Please read the article for more thinking on this subject. Link given here – http://meditation-handbook.50webs.com/math2.html

      1. regardng the link you provided, human beings are not only biological creatures and dying is not bad karma.
        whether suffering can fully be overcome? i don’t know whether physical suffering can be overcome (i don’t see how i can overcome it..). but mental suffering at least to a great extent.
        these two articles may help clarify
        https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/born-again-in-another-form/
        https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/blind-spot-of-modern-science/

      2. If your argument rests on the fine distinction between what is “useless” (to you) and what has no “no utility” (to you again) then it is as good as lost, besides being so irrelevant to society at large.

        “Meditation means transcending the conflict and limitations of the world of thought and entering the naturally serene state of no-thought”

        Can you guess who wrote that appreciation of the ‘state of no-thought’ and meditation?

        Cristoph Calder — the author of the link you posted.

        Sanjeev, apart from posting links you could have tried to understand Calder better. Calder (born Walter Pfuetze) is a serious critic not only of Osho but also other “mystic” (within quotes!) personalities. He generalizes from what he knows, at times perhaps too much. But Calder does not say that enlightenment is useless, but quite to the contrary!

        In fact, Calder’s thesis is that the (positive) usefulness of meditation and super-consciousness to any society is maximized when just a small percentage of individuals are enlightened (i.e. not the majority). That is easy to see. If everyone were to be like Ramana Maharshi, we would all die of hunger. And that is not very useful.

        So if meditation doesn’t sound “useful” to you, that is perfectly alright. But those who find it useful are prefectly right in their own.

  8. Wonderful intro to Ramana !

    Here’s a rare film on him –

    Also, ‘The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi’ by Arthur Osborne is a very good read.

  9. Lucid introduction to a great sage who lived Advaita Vedanta every day to the end of his life.He did not speak much; he did not lecture; he did not indulge in pedantic verbiage. Maria has again done a very useful educative piece–educative not only to non-Indians overseas but to Indians living in India. Awareness of Hindu heritage is looked down up on by Indian “intellectuals” and media czars. They may shed some of their ignorance reading articles such as this one by Maria Wirth.
    R.Venkatanarayanan

  10. kalyanaswamy · · Reply

    ‘ I ‘ have been silently going through your blogposts, without commenting much.
    Your understanding is really good.

  11. Dear Maria

    I take the liberty of addressing you as dear Maria
    Once again i thank you for your wonderful article: this time an introduction to Ramana Maharishi

  12. Thank you!!

  13. Sanjeev · · Reply

    Mr. G – Why you think usefulness I am talking about is only for me ? I am talking about general wasteful practice of spiritualism and state of no thought. You apply your logic to drug addicts and say their life is wasted (to you) and they are useless (to you), they are permanently in the state of bliss and stte of no thought.

    In the article quoted by me it is very clearly stated as to why this vegetative state will destroy the person, his family , society and the nation. It is because such practices have no practical use to any one just like drug addicts.

    And what exactly is the contribution of such blissful people to the society who do not think and live in permanent bliss ? Have they contributed any thing to literature, science, technology, or in any way made the society better in any aspect ? Their contribution to the civilisation is absolutely zero.

  14. Failedone · · Reply

    For me real satisfaction will be to know exactly ‘know how’ in the light of logic and reasoning rather to repeat the same old teachings of oneness and emptiness, if India has such great knowers of truth and reality why not does someone come forth and explain it scientifically.All they do seems hipocrisy, they can’t do help any fierce truth seeker.

    1. i used to hope earlier that maybe one day there is an anouncement on news that the existence of God has be proven. i know now, it can;t be like this. our worldly ‘proofs’ are not really proofs. it is all on a very subtle level and intellect needs ot be refined with dharmic living. it needs some preparation to ‘know’ this teaching of oneness is true, like it also needs preparation to understand higher maths

      1. Sanjeev · ·

        All your feelings of oneness, I am not body etc. are governed by certain glands in your brain. In temporal epilepsy you get many ‘spiritual’ experiences. “God Helmet’ invented by scientists electrically stimulate glands in the brain and give you all the spiritual experiences. Hence what you experience is not reality but video game shown by your brain just like it shows you dreams. In the dream you cannot make out that what you experience is not the reality but feel that it is the reality. But when you wake up you realise that your experiences shown by your brain were not the reality because there was no effect of it on the outside world. Same way there are no effects of your spiritual experiences on the outer world. By definition – what gives you only experience but have no other effects on the outside world is Illusion. So by definition all your spiritual experiences are nothing but illusion. Also it has Zero knowledge value. What you state out of spiritual experiences are not repeatable, are not verifiable and there is no falsifiability test (under which conditions you will accept that your have assumed is falsehood). Hence spiritual experience should be treated at par with experience of drugs. What drug addicts experience by chemically stimulating glands in brain is experienced by spiritualists by mental impact. That is why it takes preparation !. People considering spiritual experience as the aim of life went down as civilisations and stand last on the human development index. They have achieved nothing in their life just like people wasting their life in drugs. Their contribution to any aspect of life is zero, which makes the civilisation rich. Hence this path should be discarded now.

  15. DharmaVidhyan · · Reply

    Their contribution to the civilisation is absolutely zero.

    What about yours then?

    1. Sanjeev · · Reply

      Far better than people who wear only loin cloth, live in caves like stone age people and stop thinking. I have benefited this society far more than such holy souls. And enlighten us how you are going to benefit the society, yourself, your family etc. by stopping to think ! Society will surely benefit if you observe silence – though !

      1. DharmaVidhyan · ·

        “Society will surely benefit if you observe silence.”. Absolutely agree with this statement which is why gurus and wise man observed silence rather entertaining silly questions from the masses. 🙂

        How am I going to benefit the society? Well you do not have to worry about that. I have my own ways just as you do..

      2. You need wisdom to know which is a silly question and which is bright one opening your eyes. Scientists who said earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa were also considered silly by gurus and masses following their wisdom. The moment these gurus open their mouths they show how silly they are. They are considered wise only by the gullible and confused people. Since light travels faster than sound, many gurus appear bright till you hear them speak !

      3. Wow Sanjeev. I hope you feel relieved. I suppose you needed a forum to vent or your inner gripe.

        Anyway, personally I am very thankful for all the technologist/scientists or there’s who have made my life ever more comfortable. I suppose you are also one of the contributors in this area. Thank you.

        I just had a passing thought. Have you asked ask these questions to any of this god-men? If so who? I would be ingested to know the outcome of these conversations as they would have both utility and usefulness.

      4. Getting wider forums for your views is one of the marvels of new technology. I asked many god men and philosophers (some spent 80 years of their life in this field) but they were rendered speechless and I simply got no satisfactory replies. They had no answers. All their beliefs are based on the understanding of this world held by people several centuries ago. As Stephen Hawking said in his book Grand Design, philosophy is dead because it has not kept up with the progress of science. What people thought to be truth and scientific a few centuries ago has changed drastically. But beliefs have not changed. They rest on the same assumptions.

      5. Sanjeev, scientists who said earth goes around the sun were considered silly (or dangerous?) by the Church. Genuine Indian gurus knew already in the Vedic age (Rg Veda) that earth goes around sun, and much more. see “Vedic Rishis…” post

      6. Sanjeev · ·

        I have given it only as an example about holy men, religious leaders and people following their wisdom and how opinions of majority do not decide the truthfulness of any thing. Study of religious scriptures do not give you knowledge and wisdom. Hindus / Vedic rishis have another set of silly notions about this universe like ‘you are not body’, immortal soul, all knowing soul, reincarnation and mechanism judging your actions and giving you fruit accordingly. It assumes divinity in universe when the universe is neutral of human feelings. And ideals like wearing only loin cloth, living in caves and stop thinking is another set of silly ideas. Is it any wonder society considering such things as holy and ideal went down in all facets of civilisation and were slaves for thousands of years ?

      7. Sanjeev, we have a saying in Germany: you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. you need to have some openness, genuinely wanting to know the truth…
        it’s up to you. nothing more from my side
        Maria

      8. If the horse knows what it is led to is not water with good reasons, it will not drink what is offered as water will it ? The problem is – I am telling you that what you believe is water is not so and I am giving reasons for that. Unfortunately, people believing it to be water do not give any reasons for their beliefs. All they can say is I am riding on a high horse, I have not experienced it and one cannot make the horse drink the water ! I have not seen any such arguments in any scientific journal which puts up a paper on any new discovery, invention etc. to support their views. If any one tries this line of argument it will be trashed in no time. Actually any person who is interested in the truth should not be emotionally attached to his views. When something is considered holy, religious etc. your reason and rationality is the first casualty and all your exercise is in self-deception. You should ask yourself whether you are in a position to give satisfactory rational answers to the points raised by the person opposing your point of view. And you should not rest till you get rational answer either way. Either defeat the argument or accept it. There is no third alternative that one day god willing the horse will drink the water. But that needs emotional detachment from your views. Ask yourself the question whether you have emotional involvement in any particular point of view and your honest answer is affirmative, take it as a red flag. Your journey starts from this point !

  16. Maria JI, probably I am the last person to comment about your writing on Ramana Maharishi. Wow… Great Atman of his times. The one who very quickly recognized this immortal Atman was, Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekhara Sarswathi Swami ji (An affectionate and respectful calling is – Periva) of Kanchipuram. This was possible to Periva because an Atman recognized the other. Both Atman at the stage where communications were done between them done even without physical presence. As Thirukkural claims, “கற்றாரை கற்றோரே காமுறுவர்” – means a scholar will only be recognized by the other scholar.

    Nicely written article Maria Ji. Please keep enriching us as always!

  17. Sanjeev wrote (Aug. 8/14) : “Same way there are no effects of your spiritual experiences on the outer world. By definition – what gives you only experience but have no other effects on the outside world is Illusion.” With due respect, this reveals a faulty logic. Apart from the (logical and empirical) fact that one cannot prove a negative, how does he know? Having a spiritual experience, or simply a state of peace of mind and serenity (which is equivalent to it) — does it not have a counterpart in the outside world, namely, on those around that person – including cats and dogs, etc.?

  18. After reading through all the comments dominated in volume by Sanjeev though much less in substance, I conclude that Sanjeev has a closed mind unfortunately but has ample time at his hands to project his opinions, prejudices and conceptions as gospel truth.

    In my assessment, Sanjeev has in his mind a template of useful persons and surely it is no fault of Ramana’s if Ramana failed to fit that template.

    Sanjeev had also quoted Cristoph Calder opportunistically to which I responded with a quote from Calder himself (see my comment “G · August 6, 2014 – 2:48 am”) recording the “usefulness” of meditation and enlightenment. To summarize, Calder said that society as a whole benefits when just a few are enlightened.

    Futile is any attempt to prod Sanjeev towards enlightenment. But more importantly, it is totally unnecessary to do so. If Sanjeev were, let us say, a carpenter, that would be a more useful role for him and more suitable to his temperament, than a path towards enlightenment. So, let him be. Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter too, but was more known for his teaching than for his carpentry. Let it be judged as to what was more useful.

    And I’ll not flog the dead horse, especially the proverbial one that was shown the water but refused to drink! It is personal choice, and personal opinion. Let it be.

    1. sanjeev Kulkarni · · Reply

      Personal attack as reply is a fallacy of thinking. Your reply does not contain any thing which is related with the points raised by me or on the subject proper. It only reflects on your personality and lack of its development. If you have any thing worth while on the subject, do reply. Or there are many in the mutual flattery club who will praise each other for the ‘wisdom’ displayed.

  19. Good job Maria,
    You have precisely understood and presented Ramana Maharishis teaching. Quantum Physics says when a observer is present waves become particle that is energy(sakthi) and matter(siva). Ramana says find the observer the real I-I which is the omni present and fundamental of all energy and particle which is the Brahman the morphogenetic field of consciousness and become one.
    -Venkat, Chennai

    1. sanjeev Kulkarni · · Reply

      There is fundamental misunderstanding about this phenomenon quoted by you. The things which are true at quantum level are not applicable in any other level like life on earth etc. Hence parallel drawn in these things with your philosophy are not valid.
      Quantum physics never say waves become particle and matter by observation. Double slit experiment only shows the particle and wave nature of light. Also, observation in scientific language means reflection of photon from the body. Particle is so sensitive at quantum level that it changes its velocity / direction if hit by photon while observing.
      In the double slit experiment it is shown that if photon is reflected (that means particle is observed by sensitive scientific equipment (not any person) ) it changes direction and its target on the screen changes its location. It is shown that observed particles and unobserved particles thus have different locations of hitting on the screen on the other side. If observer / I is omnipresent as per Raman Maharshi, there will be no possibility of experiment showing movement of unobserved particles. Experiment of unobserved particles show that observer cannot be omnipresent.
      Using a few scientific terms out of context and without understanding its meaning, and deriving wisdom or any theories out of is nothing but pseudo-science. Nothing more need be read in to them.

  20. Prashanth · · Reply

    Which ever system of knowledge, be it scientific or spiritual/philosophical , are attempts to unravel the great mystery that we human beings term as life …

    while spirituality gives to some -peace of mind through an easy closure from the eternal quest for truth.

    science leads one to an endless journey, where one just keeps on peeling layers of knowledge but still cannot get to the bottom of it.

    Example: how the atomic structure keeps splitting into sub particles but the core particle is still illusive … how every other day we come up with new theories of how universe was created ..

    but does any of these quests actually help me as an individual at this moment of my life in any way? … i feel (personally) absolutely not … hence i MAY term the quest as useless ..

    BUT for those involved in these quests … its a life’s work .. which brings them peace … they are content with it …. it is very useful to them.

    Ultimately, its better to choose the path that you feel at home with.

    if a man chose to be silent and meditate in a cave all alone then its his choice … why should anybody feel wrong about it ?… people followed a man who actually did not speak … that means the followers were by their own choice too.

    doesn’t science give liberty of thought, expression and choice .. ?.

    We must learn not to criticize the other as long as the path is not forcefully enforced or cause hurt to any living being.

    1. Mr. Prashanth, what is the point?

  21. Mr Balaji,

    My point was intended at a particular commentator … meant to say .. let people choose their calling you need not feel offended or obligated to prove them wrong .. you don’t like it just move on.

  22. What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning-Heisenberg

    Mr. Sanjeev,

    First of all not commenting on the usefulness/truthfulness/validity of self-realization, your approach of scientific scrutiny is built on shaky grounds as Science as we know it now is unable to explain everything in the visible universe, to be precise it is able to account for only 5% of the phenomenon occuring in the universe, remaining 95% is made of dark matter and dark energy which no one knows what it is because it doesn’t exhibit any kind of electromagnetism, doesn’t interact with light & so on, so the instrument of scientific evalution has a severe limitation in itself, it is not yet complete/perfect there are many things beyond it which it is unable to explain as of now, even standard model of physics doesn’t explain it nor does it about neutrino oscillation et al. & also unification of four fundamental forces is still incomplete, so don’t take the modern scientific progress as the ulitmate probing device through which you can prove or disprove any theory, you can only do so subject to above caveats. Take the Brain for eg. no one knows who’s commander inside, brain only executes the commands, like a doctor can excite a part of your brain and move your arm & you can also do it voluntarily, this 3 pound flesh is itself not yet fully understood, when the working of part of a body is itself not yet fully known it shows the limitation of the instrument you are using. Don’t try to fit the universe into known science it’s the other way round. There was a time when Newton physics was believed to explain everything in the Universe until Louie De Broglie came along with Quantum ideas.

    Overly Simplifying my viewpoint.
    If you’ve solved sudoku’s you might have seen that suppose you make an error midway & don’t realize it then but contiune & you’ll realize it only when you try to find the last few numbers. Prior to this stage you can apply the logic and see that there is nothing wrong in the positions of the numbers even though it is incorrect vis-a-vis complete puzzle.

    When something is not yet complete and when you’ve progessed a measly 5% don’t go brouhaha while countering other theories. Questions remain unanswered on basic things regarding mind, subconscious mind, superconscious mind, there are theories but I don’t know of it’s unanimous acceptance.And life, there is no scientific consensus on it’s definition, what is life?

    Secondly use of scientific evaluation assumes that there is nothing beyond material in this universe, obvioulsy science is all about material ranging in size from quarks, electrons and other fundamental particles to galaxies & beyond. So in the quest to test atman/soul/self using known scientific approach we are assuming it to be some kind of a matter, so is this assumption valid, I don’t know. There are lot of things beyond material like, sense of taste, smell which I cannot explain to a person about these by using some scientific literature & make him experience it, he has to taste or smell it himself to know it personally, mathematical equations in this regard will not help the person to know what joy is, it has to be experienced.

    In the path to realization the I believe stress is on empirical proof, Science and engineering too prefer empirical proofs. When there is path laid out, it’s better to tread it sincerely if I’m genuinely interested in knowing it & not approaching it with the intention of disproving it or proving it.

    Now when it comes to self realization I would like to know one thing, it is said that the self is omniscient & omnipotent, if so what caused it to become ignorant or what covered it with ignorance in the first place and then to set us on a journey to reclaim our true identity, what can be more powerful-not physically alone-than the all powerful being ( I don’t know if being is the right word here).

    Regards.

    PS: I’ve read a few earlier comments not all.If some of the points have been answered or take up earlier please let me know.

    1. sanjeev Kulkarni · · Reply

      Thanks for your detailed argument. I summarise your points as follows –
      1. Science is unable to explain every thing in the VISIBLE universe.
      2. You cannot know the truth unless you know the complete picture.
      3. Scientific evaluation assumes there is nothing beyond material world
      4. Path of realisation stresses on empirical proof
      5. I have to be genuinely interested in knowing instead of disproving

      1. It is wrong to think science proves only visible universe. CERN lab has proved existence of particles which are not visible or are beyond your five senses. And whatever progress you see around is done only through science and no other method. Progress should be measured from where you started (stone age) and not how much more is yet to be known.

      2. Finding the truth and knowing the universe to the extent we verified the evidence is possible and knowing the complete picture is not necessary condition for that. In fact that is the situation about everything. There is no other discipline which knows everything any way. Considering the progress science has made in acquiring knowledge and understanding the universe even without understanding the complete picture, this belief that unless you know everything you do not understand any thing is wrong.
      And even if science has some shortcomings does not mean we have to opt for still more faulty methods. Science has tremendously contributed to knowledge and technology so far. All the patents and Noble prizes given for original contribution to any field of knowledge is only through this discipline. In fact journey towards the truth is only a direction and not destination.

      Compared to this, I have never seen any person with all knowing atma using spiritual methods to acquire knowledge getting even a single patent or any giving worthwhile contribution to the world of knowledge. Technology and scientific instruments remove to great extent the limits of your senses and you can see beyond light years which otherwise is not possible. So saying that science has limits should not be used as god of gaps to justify even far more inferior methods.

      3. Science is not confined only to materialist world but it is concerned with everything that exists in the universe. If there is any thing beyond the scope of science, it goes without saying that it is not within the scope of any thing else.

      4. If you say path of realisation stresses empirical proof, you must understand the definition of illusion to know what is wrong with this line of thinking. Illusion gives you only experience and there is no other effect on any thing else. Dream and mirage even though vivid experiences are not considered reality. While taking these experiences, you do not understand that it is not the reality. But when you wake up and understand there is no other effect of those experiences of dreams on the outside world, you conclude that it was not the reality. Same way spiritual experiences, even though experiences should not be considered reality but only illusion. When you say spiritualism is only an experience, without understanding it you actually confirm that it is not the reality but only an illusion.

      5. Knowledge is always strengthened by falsifiability test and not confirmatory evidence. One million White swans will not confirm that all the Swans are white but just one black Swan will confirm that all the Swans are not white. So not confirmation but falsifiability is the test of the truth.

      To know how science is superior to other methods, you must know how science works. (1)falsifiability–that is, its claims can at least in principle be tested and verified or rejected, (2) productivity–that is, it is useful in some way to make specific predictions about the world and to generate specific technical applications, and (3) explanatory power–that is, it offers an account of how its proposed processes work. Spiritualism has none of these. Spiritualism as a method to finding the truth has not demonstrated its usefulness in any field. Science is like puzzle-solving. You collect as many discrete puzzle bits as you can and begin to piece them together, comprehensively and honestly, into a consistent picture, If you only have a few pieces, the picture will be incomplete and your conclusions about it tentative, but the more pieces you get, the better and more certain your conclusions can be. Science believes to the extent proved by its time-tested methods. If you think science has no right to make any statements regarding truth because it has not completed the ‘sudoku’ (not got the complete picture ) then there is nothing in this universe which has found complete truth and every method can be discarded for the same reason.
      The very success of naturalistic science was evidence of its adequacy and that it had no need for intelligence explanations. In fact, when god / spiritualism had been the main explanation of the world, we called that period the Dark Ages because few if any discoveries, technologies, ideas, or theories originated from that time. Naturalistic science has arisen because of the poverty of spiritualism.

      1. Thanks Sanjeev for your comments,

        I get an impression that you see me as using gaps in current understanding of science to justify the realism of spiritual experiences, if so you’re wrong we are aware that Philosophy begins where science ends, like our earlier understandings of say, lightning, floods etc. what constitutes spiritual experience is debatable, probably inexplicable. How can you define what wetness of water means, you have to feel it.

        1. When I said visible universe, it’s not meant to be taken literally & I definitley did not restrict it’s perception through 5 senses alone, it should have been obivious by my reference to Quantum Physics, dark matter & dark energy. I subscribe to your idea of progress while an eye on the path left to be covered is equally important.
        2 & 3. . When I said material it is not be understood in philosophical terms, it should have been clear when I compared the sizes ranging from quarks to galaxies & Universe is obviously all about material/matter. I never said anything that meant ” …unless you know everything you do not understand any thing ..” & yes, science has it’s shortcomings and therefore the truth which we know cannot explain everything and I never undermined in any manner the achievment and the benefit of science- if not for it we couldn’t have communicated like this remotely at all, right 🙂 you’ve misunderstood my comments, all I said was-not specifically w.r.t atman/soul/self-there are hell lot of things beyond our current understanding so don’t try to fit everything into the known science, it’s evolving and self correcting & that’s it’s beauty. For eg with regard to dark matter some speculate that our understaning of gravity may not be all that correct, some parameters that is thought to determine the Indian monsoon have their weights changed etc.
        4. You’ve assumed all spiritual experiences are an illusion, how do you know that & who has confirmed it & I never said so, empirical means based on or verifiable by observation and experience it doesn’t mean illusion & all experiences are not illusion as you’ve thought, when I go to hills on a trek I feel happy when I reach the top, that’s an experience and it’s true & real, if someone want’s to have that experience they have to trek as well, this is empirical. Exercise stimulates endorphin production that is connected to happiness, there is no illusion here.
        Though not related here dreams are important [ NOVA documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i539ynXmh-c%5D
        5. Well, I said don’t have deep prejudicies while inquring, not just in spiritual, but in other realms as well, you’ve unknowingly elminated other possibilities & yes falsibility is indeed a superior test of truth.
        In case you’ve not heard, you might be interested in learning about near death experiences & reading this [http://www.financialexpress.com/news/scientists-find-evidence-of-consciousness-after-death/1296426]

        Regards.

  23. Nice post!!! Hindu slogans or teachings of Maharshi ramana, lord Krishna or other, you can get all types of audiobooks in our collection at a fraction of time.

  24. Whether you are looking for Upadesa Saram, Patanjali yoga sutra, Teachings of Maharshi ramana, lesson of goddess Durga, Lord Krishna, Shiva, Vishnu or Hindu slogans audiobooks.

  25. I don’t know why.But,this article has moved my soul. The purpose of the article has been fulfilled in the way Ramana Maharishi indicated, rightly. Thank you for this article.

  26. To Sanjeev or other intellectual sorts, here is a brief puzzle to solve…

    In my job I work with many medical professionals (mostly scientific what you see is what you get type individuals), as well as what I call many floaty idealists as well. Rarely anyone in the middle. They go on bickering endlessly, never attaining to any resolve. The beginning question to resolve in this puzzle is where are you or more specifically who are you in all of this? From the time you are born, you are handed a name, a religion, or lack thereof, politics, culture, etc. This immediately creates a curiosity an inquisitiveness and of course a cycle of thinking or thought processes. From there, you gain what you feel is a sense of individuality. You inevitably go on creating yourself much like an actor in a role. The Ego, if you will, is nothing more than a script that is handed to you from birth. It goes on building a plot that you ascribe as your personality, beliefs, biases, etc. If, as stated previously, 95% of what exists is still unexplained, than how can the scientific mind propose to say things like, that’s just because we haven’t discovered it yet? At the same time, for those pious individuals floating above the rest of us, making statements regarding God, the self, etc, are no more elusive of the same. I believe that what Baghwan Maharshi was portraying by his extremely intelligent and provocative question of ‘who am I,’ is basically how each individual has lost a sense of what dwells within most of us, compassion. That is compassion for the self and in turn, compassion for others. wihtout that there are terrors that are surely to follow, whether scientific or ‘spiritual.’ When, for example, Martin Klaproth discovered uranium, I would tend to doubt that he anticipated the ultimate travesty of nuclear bombs being created. Ramana Maharshi never attempted to sway anyone from their beliefs or theories, he simply drew their attention back to the question that I proposed in the beginning of this intuition and that is who are you in all of this. In other words, for example, if you aspire to be a scientist, the question is why and for what purpose. Without this type of personal self inquiry the individual becomes lost in a realm of never ending thinking, lofty, often unreachable, goals ending their life in a chair wondering what the heck just happened. With medals and trophies that will ultimately decompensate and disappear as assuredly as the individual body himself. It is like a dog chasing its own tale, with brief periods of satisfaction when the tail is caught, leading to another endless pursuit of happiness that will always fall short. the Buddha himself proposed that there is indeed a middle way or a point of intermission with everyone and everything. Einstein himself, one of the greatest scientific minds to walk this earth, made several statements both alluding to, both directly and indirectly, that there are things that will always be inexplicable. Therefore what use is all this knowledge if the individual himself leads a life half empty resulting in a continual battle of illusory control of only what he can see and touch. As a crisis counselor, I have seen this sad scenario played out from the homeless to the societal elite. Without a period of intensified self inquiry, you are nothing but an actor living out an endless script without any true sense of who you really are and what your own individual purpose in life is or will be.

    In baghwan,

  27. I think your so called puzzle is only one question – Who you are ! Well, your body is your hardware and your education, family background, environment, where you are born and what type of biases, views, opinions you inherit, your DNA and mental/physical characteristics etc. is your software which decides your responses to any event in your life. Due to access to huge amount of information and different views, now many are able to outgrow their biases and what they are taught by parents and society right from the childhood. That is why many people born in religious families become atheists if they get information which tells their beliefs had no basis. Once the person is dead, all the assembly of atoms and molecules get scattered and nothing is left. Does it answer your puzzle or my understanding of your question is wrong ?

  28. […] The article first appeared here- https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/ramana-maharshi-and-the-most-important-question-in-l… […]

  29. […] Source: Ramana Maharshi and the most important question in life […]

  30. Ramana Maharshi’s Who Am I? (Nan yar?) is one of the most profound things I have ever read and it is only 8 Pages if you print it on standard paper. I discovered a few months ago and have read it over 8 times and I still gain more each time I read it,

  31. Ramana Maharshi is possibly the greatest man of the 20th century.

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