One-Hundred Years

A century has passed since M.Sivaprakasam Pillai visited the young Sri Ramana Maharshi on the slopes of the Arunachala Hill and earnestly beseeched the silent sage to answer his burning questions on spiritual fulfillment. The answers he received in writing, signs and gestures constitute the seminal teachings from which the Maharshi never deviated. They are direct, uncompromising instructions meant to guide us to the essential reality of existence, devoid of the ego. Bhagavan was quoted as saying that everything he later wrote or discussed was only a commentary on those answers, which were later published in the form of a book, entitled Nan Yar? (Who Am I?).

And it was this small book that the Maharshi most often recommended to new visitors. All that an earnest aspirant needs to know is contained within this testament on Self-enquiry. Sincere devotees of the Maharshi should constantly reflect on the teachings found in Who Am I?, and look upon them as the key that opens the door to liberation. A few of the book's salient points are given below.

When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.
Sri Bahagavan, resting...so the realization of the Self which is the substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed.

When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition and all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.
Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. When one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue).

That which arises as 'I' in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought 'I' arises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind's origin.

Even if one thinks constantly 'I - I', one will be led to that place.

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.

When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them but should inquire 'To whom do they arise?'

Through the control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled...

Like the practice of breath-control, meditation on the forms of God, repetition of mantras, restriction of food, etc., are but aids for rendering the mind quiescent.

When the mind expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy.

Of all the restrictive rules, that relating to the taking of sattvic food in moderate quantities is the best.

One should completely renounce the thought 'I am a sinner' and concentrate keenly on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed.

The mind should not be allowed to wander towards worldly objects and what concerns other people.

All that one gives to others one gives to one's self.

To the extent we behave with humility, to that extent there will result good.

If the mind is rendered quiescent, one may live anywhere.

If one resorts to contemplation of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone would do.

What exists in truth is the Self alone.

He who gives himself up to the Self that is God is the most excellent devotee.

Whatever burdens are thrown on God, He bears them.

As thoughts arise, destroying them utterly without any residue in the very place of their origin is non-attachment.

God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they will not by themselves take the soul to the state of liberation.

Yet, each one should by his own effort pursue the path shown by God or Guru and gain release.

The world should be considered like a dream.

In order to quiet the mind one has only to inquire within oneself what one's Self is.

Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different.

There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects.

...when the object desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind becomes inward-turned and enjoys pure Self-happiness.

In fact, what is called the world is only thought.

Inquiring into the nature of one's self that is in bondage, and realizing one's true nature is liberation.