Letter 73

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28th August, 1946
This morning an Andhra gentleman questioned Bhagavan: “You say the important thing to do is to enquire and find out who I am, but how is one to find it out? Are we to do japam saying, ‘Who am I? Who am I?’ or should we repeat, ‘Neti’ (not this)? I want to know the exact method, Swami.”

After waiting for a while Bhagavan said, “What is there to find out? Who is to find out? There must be some one to find out, mustn’t there? Who is that someone? Where has that someone come from? That is the thing to find out first.” That questioner said, again, “Should there not be some sadhana to find out who one’s self is? Which sadhana will be useful?” “Yes, it is that that has to be found out. If you ask where to see, we should say, look within. What is its shape, how was it born, and where was it born; that is what you have to see or enquire,” said Bhagavan. The questioner asked again, “If we ask where this ‘I’ is born, the ancients say, it is in the heart. How could we see that?” “Yes, we have to see the heart itself. If you want to see it, the mind must get submerged completely. It is no use doing japam with the words, ‘Who am I? Who am I?’ nor by repeating the words ‘Neti, Neti’,” said Bhagavan. When the questioner said, that was exactly what he was unable to do, Bhagavan replied, “Yes, that is so. That is the difficulty. We always exist and are in all places. This body and all other attendant things are gathered around us by ourselves only.

There is no difficulty in gathering them. The real difficulty is in throwing them out. We find it difficult to see what is inhering in us and what is foreign to us. See, what a great tragedy it is!” said Bhagavan.

Some time ago, when a Bengali youth asked similar questions, Bhagavan explained to him at great length. His doubts not being cleared, that youth asked, “You say that the Self is present at all times and at all places. Where exactly is that ‘I’?” Bhagavan replied with a smile, “When I say you are present at all times and at all places and you ask where is that ‘I’, it is something like asking, when you are in Tiruvannamalai, ‘Where is Tiruvannamalai?’ When you are everywhere, where are you to search? The real delusion is the feeling that you are the body. When you get rid of that delusion, what remains is your Self. You should search for a thing which is not with you but where is the need to search for a thing which is always with you? All sadhanas are for getting rid of the delusion that you are the body. The knowledge that ‘I am’ is always there: call it Atma, or Paramatma or whatever you like. One should get rid of the idea that ‘I am the body’. There is no need to search for that ‘I’ that is the self. That Self is all- pervading.”

As an illustration of this, I give hereunder the words of Bhagavan in “Unnadhi Nalupadhi”: Without the Self where is time and where is space? If we are the body, we have to be bound by time and space. Are we the body? We are one and identical now, then and always; here, there and everywhere. So, we are existent, without time and space.” Reality in Forty Verses, verse 16 (http://benegal.org/ramana_maharshi/books/coll/cw018.html)

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