Ramana Maharishi answers 63 questions

Guru, Peace, Rebirth      

55. Bhagavan, I want to attain mukti. For that you alone are my guru. I do not seek anyone else. Kindly bestow your grace on me.

The attainment of mukti is not some new achievement. We are all in the form of mukti. Because we forget this and instead wrongly think, ‘I am this body’, many thousands of thoughts arise in wave after wave and conceal what we really are. Mukti will only shine when this thought (‘I am the body’) is destroyed.

56. The Guru is not in the village where I live. What can I do?

The Guru is within you. Surrender to him there.

• What is within me is only my own self.

Guru, Atma, Iswara – these are only different names for the same thing. The essence of each is the same.

57. Isn’t Guru’s grace necessary for one’s progress in self-enquiry?

Yes. But the vichara you are making is itself Guru’s grace. Go on with the enquiry.

• How? Don’t know how to proceed.

Who doesn’t know? You say ‘I’ and yet say, ‘I’ do not know this ‘I’. Isn’t that ludicrous? You have to constantly fight it out and get rid of the false notion of ‘I’. Do that.

• Isn’t Guru’s help necessary and useful?

Yes, to start you on the enquiry. But you yourself must pursue your enquiry.

• Upto what point is the enquiry to be continued?

Till your last wrong notion is demolished, until the self is realized.

58. Some people reported you to have said that there was no need for a guru. Others gave the opposite report. What does Maharshi say?

I have never said that there is no need for a guru. All depends on what you call guru. He need not be in a human form. Dattatreya had twenty-four gurus: the five elements, earth, water, etc. which means that every object in this world was his guru. Guru is absolutely necessary. The Upanishada say that none but a guru can take a man out of the jungle of intellect and sense – perceptions. So there must be a guru.

• I mean a human guru – the Maharshi did not have one.

I might have had one at one time or other. But did I not sing hymns to Arunachala? What is a guru? Guru is God or the Self. First a man prays to God to fulfill his desires. A time comes when he will no more pray for the fulfillment of material desires but for God Himself. God then appears to him in some form or other, human or non-human, to guide him to Himself in answer to his prayers and according to his needs.

60. What is the goal of all religions?

Peace through surrender.

61. What is peace?

Our swaroopa, nature, is peace. We assume restlessness for ourselves and crave for peace. In fact we are in peace always. To be ourselves in fullness is peace. To strive for peace is like standing neck-deep in fresh water and complaining that the thirst has not been quenched. One wonders if the water itself is causing the thirst.

62. I am unable to have peace of mind. I am planning to go to the Himalayas in search of it.

You have traveled 250 miles from Madurai and come here. How much peace of mind have you got? Multiply it by the distance from here to Himalayas to measure the happiness you will get by going there.

• Why is the mind troubled by worldly woes?

Who is the one who is troubled? Put that question to yourself as often as you feel troubled. You are not the body but the Self, which is unmixed bliss. How then can any worldly bugbear affect you?

63. I have riches, power, every material comfort, but am unable to find peace.

Why do you want peace? Why cannot you be as you are?

• Because I am not happy otherwise.

It is like this. A man suffering from headache will not rest quietly until he has taken the right medicine and got rid of his ailment. For, health is our nature and not illness. Likewise peace is our nature. Indeed we are peace. Forgetting that, we seek peace from external sources. It is an impossible quest and causes all this trouble. The moment you withdraw your mind from external objects and turn inwards you taste real peace and feel happy.

64. Though we feel happy at times, at other periods we are unhappy, as things do not happen according to our expectations. As a result happiness is so fleeting.

Why should you feel unhappy? Do you expect happiness only from your body and mind? You say the happiness does not last long. For eternal happiness the only way is to know the self. The truth will then shine forth from your heart like sunshine. Mind becomes untroubled and real happiness will flood it. The self and happiness are identical.

65. I am unable to pacify the mind when circumstances are unfavorable.

The relative happiness and unhappiness to the mind arise from sheer ignorance of the spiritual truth. Man’s true nature is happiness, which is inborn. One’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for the self. At last he finds what is already there. This happiness, bliss, does not come to an end. It is eternal.

Birth & Rebirth
68. Why do we have no memory of past lives?

Memory is a faculty of the mind and is part of the illusion. Why do you want to remember other lives, which are also illusions? If you abide as the self, there is no past or future and not even the present since the self is timeless.

69. What causes rebirth?

Desires. Your unfulfilled desires bring you back and in each case, in each body, as your desires are fulfilled you create new ones. You must be absorbed into the self and thereby end rebirth.

70. Is there birth and rebirth?

Really speaking there is no death. The question of birth can arise only if there is death. When we identify ourselves with the body ignoring the immortal self, then the question of birth and death arises. Properly understood death can only mean the ending of the thought ‘I am body’. True birth is only to remain in your natural state free from all thoughts including the primal thought of identification with the body.

• Is there rebirth?
If there is birth now, there must be past and future birth. One must enquire ‘to whom is this birth?’ The rise of the ‘I’ – thought is real birth.

75. Who is a Master?

The Master is one who has flung his whole personality into the sea of God and forgotten it. He simply becomes the instrument of God. When his mouth opens it speaks God’s words without effort or forethought. Again when he raises a hand God flows through that to work a miracle.

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