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Ramana Maharshi Quotes - 108 Quotes and Thoughts of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi, 1879-1950, seer and philosopher, spread the teachings of Vedanta and Hinduism. Through these Ramana Maharshi Quotes, we can discover the essence of Sri Ramana Maharishi’s teaching. Sri Ramana Maharshi also known as The Sage of Arunachala was drawn by the power of the Arunachala Mountain in Tiruvannamalai at the age of sixteen and spent his entire life at its feet. The thoughts and quotes are mainly collected from books, magazines and newspaper articles.

There are no jnanis; there is only jnanam"? The one who knows has to disappear into that which is known.

There is no greater mystery than this, that we keep seeking reality though in fact we are reality. We think that there is something hiding reality and that this must be destroyed before reality is gained. How ridiculous! A day will dawn when you will laugh at all your past efforts. That which will be the day you laugh is also here and now.

‘Heart’ is merely another name for the Supreme Spirit, because He is in all hearts. The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the Heart. Thus the Heart is the nucleus of the whole Universe.

Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.

You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.

The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.

Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.

The cause of your misery is not in your outer life; it is in you, as your ego. You impose limitations on yourself and then make a vain struggle to transcend them.

We loosely talk of Self-Realization, for lack of a better term. But how can one realize or make real that which alone is real? All we need to do is to give up our habit of regarding as real that which is unreal. All religious practices are meant solely to help us do this. When we stop regarding the unreal as real, then reality alone will remain, and we will be that.

The idea that there is a goal…is wrong. We are the goal; we are always at peace. To get rid of the idea that we are not at peace is all that is required.

'I exist' is the only permanent self-evident experience of everyone. Nothing else is so self-evident as 'I am'. What people call self-evident, that is, the experience they get through the senses, is far from self-evident. The Self alone is that. So to do self-enquiry and be that 'I am' is the only thing to do. 'I am' is reality. I am this or that is unreal. 'I am' is truth, another name for Self.

Nearly all mankind is more or less unhappy because nearly all do not know the true Self. Real happiness abides in Self-knowledge alone. All else is fleeting. To know one's Self is to be blissful always.

What is right and wrong? There is no [objective] standard by which to judge something to be right and another to be wrong. Opinions differ according to the nature of the individual and according to the surroundings.

All the scriptures are meant only to make a man retrace his steps to his original source. He need not acquire anything new. He only has to give up false ideas and useless accretions. Instead of doing this, however, he tries to grasp something strange and mysterious because he believes his happiness lies elsewhere. That is the mistake.

Mouna (silence) is the best and the most potent diksha. That was practiced by Sri Dakshinamurti. Initiation by touch, look, etc., are all of a lower order. Silent initiation changes the hearts of all.

Mukti, or liberation, consists in the utter annihilation of the ego, or ahamkara, and the entire destruction of my and mine or mamakara, by any possible means.

Further, as these are found to flourish together, being entirely interdependent, the destruction of either ahamkara or mamakara causes also the destruction of the other.

In order to attain that state of supreme Quiescence, or Mauna, transcending speech and thought, either the Path of knowledge or Vedanta Marga which leads to the annihilation of the ego, or the Path of devotion, or Bhakti Marga, which results in the destruction of “my” and “mine” is equally effective.

There, there can be no doubt that the path of devotion and that of knowledge lead to the same goal. Either path is one and the same.

As the Self is one, why is it necessary to approach a Guru?
Ramana Maharishi – In reality it is not necessary, but because we are dreaming on the physical plane, the presence of the realized Master is necessary to wake us up, to remind us of ourselves. When the proud elephant dreams that a lion is coming, he gets a shock and wakes up suddenly. As we are all dreaming, the help of a Guru, within this dream is necessary in order to force us wake up, as the eyes of the Guru disperse the dream.

Which is the worst sin?
Ramana Maharishi – By identifying yourself with the mind you kill the true Self.

Seeing God without seeing the Self,
one sees only mental image.
Only he who has seen Himself has seen God,
since he has lost his individuality,
and now sees nothing but God.
If one associates with the Sages,
where is the need for all other methods of discipline?
When there is a pleasant breeze blowing,
of what use, tell me, is a fan?

Bliss is not something to be got.
On the other hand you are always Bliss.
This desire [for Bliss] is born of the sense of incompleteness.
To whom is this sense of incompleteness?
In deep sleep you were blissful.
Now you are not so.
What has interposed between that Bliss and this non-bliss?
It is the ego.
Seek its source and find you are Bliss.

Ramana Maharishi on Will and Fate

When the fruit of action is pleasant, man thinks that will is stronger than fate. But when the fruit of action is otherwise, he thinks that fate is stronger.

Only he that thinks ‘I am the doer of actions and the recipient of the fruits of actions’ takes the distinction between the intellect [will] and fate as real. But the Self is neither the doer nor the recipient of the fruits of actions.

Fate is only action done before, and all action is done by the will. Hence the pair of will and fate is only unreal. How can their antagonism be real?

Since the root of [both] will and fate is the ego, this pair will cease to appear when the ego dies in the pursuit of the quest of the real Self. [Hence,] the sage is not aware of the distinction between free will and fate.

The sage, who is mind-free and hence free from attachments, and without a [personal] will, does not become a doer of actions, nor does he reap the fruits of actions. Therefore, he is not aware of the distinction between free will and fate.

Sri Ramana Maharshi Thoughts on Renunciation

Renunciation is in the mind. It does not depend on external objects or environment. 

A man may be in his village and family, and attending to his business and yet be detached in mind, whereas another may be in the forest, having left his family and given up his work and property and yet his mind may be attached to all that he has left behind physically. What is the use of going to the forest? 

You can leave your family and work behind, but your mind will go with you. You will only be exchanging the notion 'I am a householder' with the notion 'I am an ascetic', and in place of the old attachments, new ones will grow. What is needed is to renounce in the mind and retain only the notion 'I am', and not 'I am a householder' or 'I am an ascetic'.

The life of action need not to be renounced. If you will meditate one hour or two every day, you can then carry on your duties. If you meditate in the right manner, than the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in the midst of your work. It is as though there were two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.

Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi on Householder’s Desire for Renunciation or Moksha

How does a grihastha (householder) fare in the scheme of Moksha (liberation)?

Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi said, ‘Why do you think you are a grihastha?’ If you go out as a Sannyasi (ascetic), a similar thought that you are a Sannyasi will haunt you. Whether you continue in the household or renounce it and go to the forest, your mind goes with you.

The ego is the source of all thought. It creates the body and the world and makes you think you are a grihastha. If you renounce the world it will only substitute the thought Sannyasi for grihastha and the environment of the forest for that of the household.

But the mental obstacles will still be there. They even increase in the new surroundings. There is no help in change of environment. The obstacle is the mind. It must be got over whether at home or in the forest.

If you can do it in the forest, why not at home? Therefore, why change your environment? Your efforts can be made even now – in whatever environment you are now. The environment will never change according to your desire.

Ramana Maharshi Quotes on God, Guru and Self

A person begins with dissatisfaction. Not content with the world he seeks satisfaction of desires by prayers to God; his mind is purified; he longs to know God more than to satisfy his carnal desires. Then God's Grace begins to manifest. God takes the form of a Guru and appears to the devotee; teaches him the Truth; purifies the mind by his teachings and contact; the mind gains strength, is able to turn inward; with meditation it is purified yet further, and eventually remains still without the least ripple. That stillness is the Self. The Guru is both exterior and interior. From the exterior he gives a push to the mind to turn inward; from the interior he pulls the mind towards the Self and helps the mind to achieve quietness. That is Grace. Hence there is no difference between God, Guru and Self.
Ramana Maharshi

Thoughts of V Ganesha
Attention has no past. Attention has no future. Attention is always in the now. And now is the life! That thought about Death – ‘I know I am going to die one day’ – is inattention that is itself Death. So an ignorant man alternates between life and death. He is alive but he is dying every moment, by wasting his life force, the now.

V Ganesh
(V Ganesh is a disciple of Ramana Maharshi)

Quotes from Upadesa Saaram of Sri Ramana Maharshi

The fruit of actions are not everlasting and they pass away. But action leaves behind a seed for further action leading one into the endless ocean of action or ‘karma.’ This is not the way to liberation and it blocks all our spiritual progress.

An action which is done with disinterestedness, not motivated by personal gain, and which is surrendered unto the Lord, will purify the mind and lead us to Liberation.

If one’s attention is turned away from external objects of sense and focused on the light of the Self, that is the true vision of Reality.

What one has thought of as his mind is merely a bundle of thoughts. All these thoughts depend upon the one thought of “I”, the ego. Therefore, the so called mind is the ‘I’ thought.

If one asks himself, ‘Where does this I come from?’ it will vanish. This is Self enquiry, or atma-vichara.

Sri Ramana Maharshi on the Role of Effort in Brahman Realization

Effort is necessary up to the stage of realization. Even then the Self should spontaneously become evident, otherwise happiness would not be complete. Up to the stage of spontaneity there must be effort, in some form or other.

Divine grace is essential for realization. But grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or a yogi. It is given only to those who have striven hard and ceaselessly on the path to freedom.

There is a state beyond effort and effortlessness. Until it is realized, effort is necessary... Grace is always there. But practice is also necessary.

It is necessary both for you to strive and for the guru to help.

Effortlessness and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain that state and abide in it, it is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation.

Sadhanas are needed as long as one has not realized it. They are for putting an end to obstacles... there are no short cuts to moksha.

What is important is steadfast resolve. It does not make much difference if you concentrate on the top of the nose, the center of the eyebrows, and so on. The really important thing is to pay attention to the source of the mantra. Keep your attention fixed on that. Perseverance alone counts. The more you meditate the easier it becomes to meditate. At last it becomes natural.

The One Self, the Sole Reality, alone exists eternally. When even the Ancient Teacher, Dakshinamurti, revealed it through speechless eloquence, who else could convey IT by speech?

Does an ornament exist apart from the gold of which it is made? Where is the body apart from the Self? He who considers the body to be himself is an ignorant man. He who regards himself as the Self is the Enlightened – One who has realized the Self.

Just as a big banyan tree sprouts from a tiny seed, so the wide universe with names and forms sprouts forth from the heart.

The mind is only a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is a thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if sought, will vanish automatically.

The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge spiritual progress.

Silence is the best language.

Sri Ramana Maharshi on Bliss

The thought 'I am the body' is the thread on which are strung together various thoughts. Questioning within and enquiring, ‘Who am I?’ And ‘Whence this thought?’ all other thoughts vanish. Then the Self shines of its own accord. Such Self-awareness is the only Heaven; this stillness, this abode of bliss.

Guru sees no difference between himself and others – Ramana Maharshi

The Guru is one who at all times abides in the profound depth of the Self. He never sees any difference between himself and others and he is completely free from false notions of distinctions – that he himself is the Enlightened or the Librated while others around him are in bondage or the darkness of ignorance. His firmness or self-possession can never be shaken under any circumstances and he is never perturbed.

The Master is within; meditation is meant to remove the ignorant idea that he is only outside.

When the wrong identification of oneself with the body ceases the Master is found to be one other than the Self.
Ramana Maharshi

That inner Self, as the primeval Spirit,
Eternal, ever effulgent, full and infinite Bliss,
Single, indivisible, whole and living,
Shines in everyone as the witnessing awareness.
That self in its splendor, shining in the cavity of the heart
This self is neither born nor dies,
Neither grows nor decays,
Nor does it suffer any change.
When a pot is broken, the space within it is not,
And similarly, when the body dies the Self in it remains eternal.
Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi on Meditation

  • Silent meditation, in the mind, is higher than the best devotional praise, or the uttering of sacred names, loudly or softly.
  • Like an unbroken flow of oil or a stream of water, continuous meditation is better than that which is interrupted.
  • Meditation on the identity of the individual and the Lord, ‘I am He,’ is more purifying than meditation which assumes difference between them.
  • Ritual worship, repetition of sacred names, and meditation are done with the body, the speech and the mind, and they progress to excellence in that order.  1) Ritual worship – body 2) Sacred names – speech 3)Meditation – mind.

Ramana Maharshi Thoughts on Guru

  • The purpose of the outer Guru is to turn you inwards to the inner Guru.
  • The Guru is One.
  • God, Guru and Self are the same.
  • The Guru is the formless Self within each one of us. He may appear as a body to guide us, but that is only his disguise.

Ramana Maharshi – What is there to realize?

It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize?

The real is as it is always.

We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before. The illustration given in books is this.

We dig a well and create a huge pit. The space in the pit or well has not been created by us. We have just removed the earth which was filling the space there. The space was there then and is also there now.

Similarly, we have simply to throw out all the age-long samskaras (innate tendencies) which are inside us. When all of them have been given up, the Self will shine alone.

(Source: ‘Be As You Are’ The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi - Edited by David Godman)

Ramana Maharshi on Ignorance, Knowledge and Self

  • Is it not, rather, ignorance to know all else without knowing oneself, the knower? As soon as one knows the Self, which is the substratum of knowledge and ignorance; then knowledge and ignorance perish.
  • That alone is true Knowledge which is neither knowledge nor ignorance. What is known is not true Knowledge. Since the Self shines with nothing else to know or to make known, Self alone is Knowledge. It is not a void.
  • The Self, which is Knowledge, is the only Reality. Knowledge of multiplicity is false knowledge. This false knowledge, which is really ignorance, cannot exist apart from the Self, which is Knowledge-Reality. The variety of gold ornaments is unreal, since none of them can exist without the gold of which they are all made.
(Source: Forty Verses on Reality by Sri Ramana Maharshi, translated by Arthur Osborne.)