BE AS YOU ARE: The Core Direct Teaching of Ramana Maharshi



Compiled by Peter Holleran


From Talks with Ramana Maharshi. Savor each verse slowly, as a contemplation. May the power of his words awaken.


You can not deny yourself at any time. The Self is ever there and continuous in all states.

In fact there is no inside or outside for the Self. They are projections of the ego. The Self is pure and absolute.

Even the thought, "I do not realize," is a hindrance. The self alone is. A man can realize the Self, because that is here and now. If it were not so, but attainable only by some efforts at some other time, and if it were new and something to be acquired, it would not be worthy of pursuit. Because what is not natural can not be permanent, either. But what I say is that the Self is here and now and alone.

The "I" casts off the illusion of "I" and yet remains "I". Such is the paradox of Self-realization. The realized do not see any contradiction in it. The "I" has no location. Everything is the Self. There is nothing but that. So the Heart must be said to be the entire body of ourselves and of the entire universe conceived as "I". But to help the practitioner we have to indicate a definite part of the universe, or of the body. So the Heart is pointed out as the seat of the Self. But in truth we are everywhere, we are all that is, and there is nothing else.

What comes afresh cannot be true. What always is, is true.

People seem to think that by practicing some elaborate sadhana the Self will one day descend upon them as something very big and with tremendous glory, giving them what is called sakshatkaram [direct experience]. The Self is sakshat [direct] all right, but there is no karam or kritam about it. The word karam implies doing something. But the Self is realised not by doing something but by refraining from doing anything, by remaining still and being simply what one really is.

Do not think yourself to be this, that or anything, to be so and so, or to be such and such. Only leave off the falsity. Reality will reveal itself.

The “I-I” is always there. There is no knowing it. It is not a new knowledge acquired. What is new and not here and now will be evanescent only. The “I” is always there.

Progress can be spoken of in things to be attained afresh. Whereas it is the removal of ignorance and not acquisition of knowledge. What kind of progress can be expected in the quest for the Self?

You know that you know nothing. Find out that knowledge. That is liberation (mukti).

The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said.

There is no one who for a trice fails to experience the Self. For no one admits that he ever stands apart from the Self. He is the Self. The Self is the Heart.

Where are you now that you want to realize the heart? Are you standing apart from the Self?

You are always in the Heart. You are never away from it in order that you should reach it.

The idea of difficulty is itself wrong. It will not help you to gain what you want. Again I ask: “Who finds it difficult?”

It is wrong to imagine that there is the world, that there is a body in it and that you dwell in the body. If the Truth is known, the universe and what is beyond it will be found to be only the Self.

People want to see the Self as something new. But it is eternal and remains the same all along. They desire to see it as a blazing light, etc. How can it be so? It is not light, nor darkness. It is only as it is and cannot be defined. The best definition is ‘I AM that I AM.’

You are That. Can you ever remain apart from the Self? To be yourself requires no effort since you are always that.

The state of being is now and here all along. You have lost hold of yourself and are asking others for guidance. The purpose of philosophy is to turn you inward.

The Real Self is continuous and unaffected. The reincarnating ego belongs to a lower plane, namely thought. It is transcended by Self-realization.

The Self is certainly within the direct experience of everyone, but not as one imagines it to be. It is only as it is.

People would not understand the simple and bare truth - the truth of their everyday, ever-present and eternal experience. That Truth is that of the Self. Is there anyone not aware of the Self? They would not even like to here it (the Self), whereas they are eager to know what is beyond - heaven, hell, reincarnation. Because they love mystery and not the bare truth, religions pamper them - only to bring them around to the Self. Wandering hither and thither, you must return to the Self only. Then why not abide in the Self here and now?

If there is a goal to be reached, it cannot be permanent. The goal must already be there. We seek to reach the goal with the ego, but the goal exists before the ego. Realization is always there.

Realization is simply loss of the ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because the ego is no entity, it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself. This is the direct method, whereas all other methods are done retaining the ego. In those paths there arise so many doubts and the eternal question remains to be tackled. But in this method, the final question is the only one and it is raised from the very beginning. No sadhanas are necessary for engaging in this quest.

There is no mystery greater than the following: ourselves being the Reality, we seek to gain reality. We think there is something hiding our reality, and that it must be destroyed before the reality is gained. That is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on that day you laugh is also here and now.

D: So it is a great game of pretending?
M: Yes.

Find the ego
[“I”-thought], then the soul will be found.

Be what you are...That which is is always there...What are you waiting for? The thought, “I have not seen,” the expectation to see, and the desire of getting something are all the working of the ego. You have fallen into the snares of the ego. The ego says all that, and not you. Be yourself and nothing more.

To imagine Muladhara at the bottom, the Heart at the center, or the head at the top or over all those, is completely wrong. In one word, to think is not your nature.

Who says it is not felt? Does the real “I” say it or the false “I” ?

The feeling “I haved not realized” is the obstruction to realization. In fact, it is already realized; there is nothing more to be realized.

To say that one is apart from the Primal Source is itself pretension; to add that one divested of ego becomes more pure and yet retains individuality only to enjoy or serve the Supreme, is a deceitful strategem.

The very thought of difficulty is the chief obstacle. A little practice will make you think differently.

Realization is nothing to be got afresh. It is already there. All that is necessary is to be rid of the thought, “I have not realized.”

[This reminds one of a quote from Adyashant, that enlightenment to a very great degree depends on your believing in its possibility in this life: "Stop pretending that you are in bondage—stop telling yourself that lie! Stop pretending to be someone, or something! You are no one, you are no-thing! You are not this body or this mind. This body and mind exist within who and what you are. You are pure consciousness, already free, awake, and liberated. Stand up and walk out of your dream. I am here to say that you can do this.”]

So long as there is doubt or the feeling of non-realization, an attempt must be made to rid oneself of these thoughts. The thoughts are due to identification of the Self with the non-self. When the non-self disappears, the Self alone remains. To make room anywhere, it is enough that things are removed. Room is not brought in afresh. Nay, what’s more - room is there even when crowded [i.e., even when there are thoughts].

People read in the books, “hearing, reflection and one-pointedness are necessary.” They think that they must pass through savikalpa samadhi and nirvikalpa samadhi before attaining realization. Hence all these questions. Why should they wander in that maze? What do they gain in the end? It is only cessation of the trouble of seeking. They find that the Self is eternal and self-evident. Why should they not get that repose even in this very moment?

We are in our Self. We are not in the world.

You are always in the Self and there is no “reaching” it.

There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh, will again be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say, the Self is not reached. You are the Self. You are already That.

[Paul Brunton similarly wrote: “..the Overself is with him here and now. It has never left him at any time. It sits everlastingly in the heart. It is indeed his innermost being, his truest self. Were it something different and apart from him, were it a thing to be gained and added to what he already is or has, he would stand the risk of losing it again. For whatever may be added to him may also be subtracted from. Therefore, the real task of this quest is less to seek anxiously to possess it than to become aware that it already and always possesses him."]

Know the doubter. If the doubter be held, doubts will not arise. Doubts must be uprooted. This means the doubter must be uprooted.

You are already the Self. Therefore, realization is common to everyone. Realization knows no difference in the aspirants. This very doubt, “Can I realize?” or the feeling, “I have not realized,” are the obstacles. Be free from these, also.

You are always the Self. Earnest efforts never fail. Success is bound to result.

To remain without questions or doubts is the natural state.

The doctor must be given a free hand and the patient must only remain quiet without saying anything. Similarly, keep quiet. That is effortlessness.

Atma-vichara directly leads to realization by removing the obstacles which make you think that the Self is not already realized.

Because your outlook is directed externally, you speak of a without. In that state you are advised to look within. The within is relative to the without you are seeking. In fact, the Self is neither without or within.

You must get rid of the idea that you are an ajnani yet to realize the Self. You are the Self. Was there ever a time when you were apart from it?

Trance is the natural state. Know that even now you are in trance whatever happens. That is all. One should be aware of his eternal state of trance.

D: Raising the question
[Who am I?] no response comes from within.
M: What kind of response would you expect? Are you not there? What more? The inquirer is the answer and there is no other answer.

D: How to realize the Self?
M: It is already realized. One should know this simple fact. That is all.

Questions arise because of the feeling that having been here so long, heard so much, tried so hard, one has not gained aything. The work within is not apparent. In fact, the Guru is always with you.

D: I cannot go within sufficiently deep.
M: It is wrong to say so. Where are you now if not in the Self? Where should you go? All that is necessary is the firm belief that you are the Self.

Why should you be liberated? Why not remain as you are now?

The Self is always realized. There is no seeking to realize what is already - always - realized. For you cannot deny your own existence. That existence is consciousness - the Self.

Unless you exist, you cannot ask questions. So you must admit your own existence. That existence is the Self. It is already realized. Therefore, the effort to realize results only in your realizing your present mistake - that you have not realized your self. There is no fresh realization. The Self becomes revealed.

D: That will take years.
M: Why years? The idea of time is only in your mind. It is not in the Self. There is no time for the Self. Time arises as an idea after the ego arises. But you are the self beyond time and space; you exist even in the absence of time and space.

Even without 'diving' in, you are That. The ideas of exterior and interior exist only so long as you do not accept your real identity...It was said because you are identifying with the froth and not the water. Because of this confusion, the answer was meant to draw your attention to this confusion and bring it home to you. All that is meant is that the Self is infinite, inclusive of all that you see. There is nothing beyond it or apart from it. Knowing this, you will not desire anything; not desiring, you will be content.

You are always in the Heart.

[Plotinus wrote: "Soul never knew spatial separation and therefore is always within the source. If you cut the root to pieces, or burn it, where is the life that was present there? In the soul, which never went out of itself...Soul thus is nowhere but in the Principle which has that characteristic existence at once nowhere and everywhere." v.2.2]

Realization is our nature. It is nothing new to be gained. What is new cannot be eternal. Therefore, there is no need for doubting if one would lose or regain the Self.