Ramana Maharshi is the silent one, teaching the pure non-dual essence through perfect silence.
What our master clearly teaches
By way of great, good, powerful Self-attention
Is only this and nothing more
Apart from this, the mind has no
Task to do or thought to think.
What exists in Truth is the Self alone. The Self is that where there is absolutely no “I”-thought. That is called silence [mauna]. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is “I”; the Self itself is God.
The inner silence is self-surrender. And that is living without the sense of ego. Solitude is in the mind of humanity. Silence is ever speaking; it is the perennial flow of “language”. It is interrupted by speaking; for words obstruct this mute language. Silence is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity.
There is consciousness along with quietness in the mind; this is exactly the state to be aimed at.
By silence, eloquence is meant. It is the best language.
The thought-free experience of the Self is silence.
There is a state when words cease and silence prevails.
That state which transcends speech and thought is silence.
That state in which the “I”-thought does not rise even in the least is silence.
The experience of silence is alone the real and perfect knowledge.
Sages say that the state in which the “I”-thought does not rise even in the least, alone is Self which is silence. That silent Self alone is God; Self alone is the individual soul. Self alone is this ancient world. All other knowledge are only petty and trivial knowledge; the experience of silence alone is the real and perfect knowledge. Know that the many objective differences are not real but are mere superimpositions on Self, which is the form of true knowledge.
That which is, is silence. How can silence be explained in words?
A vow of silence is but a vow. It may help in meditation to some extent, but what is the use of keeping the mouth shut and letting the mind run riot?
The pure state of attention to the Self alone is one’s own state of silence, which is devoid of any other thing.
The Guru is the bestower of silence who reveal the light of Self-knowledge, which shines as the residual Reality. Spoken words are of no use whatsoever if the eyes of the Guru meet the eyes of his disciple.
Silence, which shines alone as consciousness of being, possesses the glory of being the highest and most potent tapas [spiritual effort].
Silence – which is not only the means to liberation but also that which abides as the very nature of liberation itself – has a matchless magnificence.
If you adhere to that path of silence, the means to liberation, there will be no suffering of any kind.
The Supreme Reality that is liberation is experienced only by perfect silence. Indulging in thoughts drives it away.
To attain liberation, the door to which is silence, the ego that rises as a separate “I” should be completely destroyed.
Silence is the best and most potent initiation. That was practised by Dakshinamurti. Initiation by touch, look, etc. are all of a lower order. Silent initiation changes the Heart of all.
Silence of a realised being is most powerful. He sends out waves of spiritual influence which draw many people towards him. Yet he may sit in a cave and maintain complete silence. He never needs to go out among the public. If necessary he can use others as his instrument.
Silence is ever-speaking. It is the perennial flow of language which is interrupted by speaking. These words which I am speaking obstruct that mute language. For example there is electricity flowing in a wire. With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as a fan. In the wire it remains as electrical energy. Similarly, silence is the flow of language obstructed by words.
When one remains without thinking, one understands another by means of the universal language of silence. What one fails to know by conversation extending to several years can be known instantly through silence. Dakshinamurti is a good example of this. This is the highest and most effective language.
Initiation into silence is the most perfect initiation; it comprises looking, touching and teaching. It will purify the individual in every way and establish him in the Reality.
Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scriptures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is more vast and emphatic than all the scriptures put together.
Silence does not mean negation of activity or stagnant inertness. It is not a mere negation of thoughts but something more positive than you can imagine.
The one Self, the sole Reality, alone exist eternally. When even the ancient master, Dakshinamurti, revealed It only through speechless eloquence, who else could convey it by speech or with words?
The silence of the Self is ever there. As long as you run with the running mind you cannot have it. It is a Supreme peace, immutable like a rock, that supports all your activities, in fact, all movements. It is in this silence that God and the liberated souls are rooted.
Contact with a enlightened sage is good. They will work through silence. By speaking their power is reduced. Silence is most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence, so mental contact is the best.
True realisation is to cherish with one’s understanding, without any obstruction, the first cause of all that is, that silence which is liberation.
The perfect silence in which the ego, the root, has been destroyed is the true nature, which will never be vanquished.
The eminent and powerful state of silence can be reached in the Heart only by attaining the Self-state, the unmoving axis.
Only silence, which is the end point of jnana [the direct knowledge of the Reality that is the Self], is that true vision which is the profound truth of Vedanta.
Silence is the ocean into which all the rivers of all the religions discharge themselves. It is the speech of the Self.
Silence, the unique language, ever surging in the Heart [a synonym for the Self], is the state of Grace.
In silence one is in intimate contact with the surroundings.
In the state of silence one merely abides as “I-I”. Apart from this, there is neither thinking nor knowing.
Silence will manifest itself when the clarity of Self-knowledge, which overflows with the exalted direct experience, causes the trinities of seer-seeing-seen and knower-knowing-known to depart.
If the trinities that have risen from silence subside in silence, then bliss will arise.
A mind that has experienced the light of silence will not readily accept the conceptual drama, consisting of the trinities, that appears in the other light [chidabhasa].
It is the mind that is diminished when there is a feeling of deficiency. In the fullness of silence, there is only consciousness, but no thoughts.
That bliss that grows in the field of silence is not attained and experienced in any other field.
Those who have seen the light of silence are without any attachment to the world, which is an infatuating snare that rises from the “I am the doer” idea, the feeling that there is a person who is performing the actions that the body engages in.
The feeling of remaining young forever is attained in nothing else other than silence, the blossoming of Truth.
Since it is thought that creates a sense of deficiency, only thought-free silence is fullness.
In order to attain the Supreme state of silence, that which is worthy of attainment by seekers of Truth is the loss of individuality.
You should know that the Supreme state of liberation exists only in a mind who has attained the state of silence and nowhere else.
The concept-free experience of the vast emptiness of silence will rise, putting an end to the delusion of the ego, the deceiving fixation.
The direct experience of the Self, silence, is the axis of everything. This is the summit, the highest good.
Those who have sunk deeply into the ocean of silence and drowned will live on the summit of the Supreme mountain, the expanse of consciousness.
From silence came thought, from thought, the ego, and from ego, speech. So if speech is effective, how much more so must be its source?
The pure state [turiya] exists and shines as unceasing pure being in the Heart after the other thoughts that rise from oneself and the Self-forgetfulness that is the basis for their rising are fully destroyed.
Clinging to that pure state, which remains without any attachments, is clinging to Divine Grace. This alone is one’s own state of silence wherein naught else exists. To know and to merge in this state of silence through practice of Self-enquiry, and to remain always as That, is true mental worship. This you should know.
Take either God or Guru as your Lord. Until you attain liberation, keep in your Heart the conviction that you are his subject. Remain without desires and live according to his command. Oh foolish mind, why do you forget this and get deluded?
Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight. To remain quiet is to resolve the mind in the Self.
Enthroning the Lord upon the seat of the Heart and fixing the whole mind at his feet, worship him as your own Self, without a sense of difference, because He is your own true nature. You should know that true worship, performed naturally and without a break, is the fair nature of divine silence.
The inner silence is self-surrender. And that is living without the sense of ego.
Subjugation of the mind is meditation; deep meditation is Eternal speech. Silence is ever-speaking; it’s the perennial flow of “language”. It is interrupted by speaking; for words obstruct this mute “language”.
Silence is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity.
Oral lectures are not so eloquent as silence. Silence is unceasing eloquence. It is the best language.
Which is the better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out inner force?
Know that Self, which is to be enquired into and attained in the Heart as the state of happiness through the requisite tapas or Self-attention, is only the state of silence, which is experienced by removing the delusive and worthless knowledge of differences along with its root, the ignorance or wrong knowledge “I am this body”.
The state of the experience of the one non-dual silence, which is attained as the experience of the unlimited true knowledge, is only the shining of oneself as the empty space devoid of the false imagination which is the rising of the wicked ego-mind.
Since the silence of Self, which shines through the pure mind [the pure existence-consciousness which is devoid of all thoughts], alone turns out to be the gateway to liberation, even though they proceed along any path which is agreeable to them, that gate alone is the final refuge.
Attending unceasingly and with a fully concentrated mind to Self, which is the non-dual perfect Reality, alone is the pure Supreme silence; on the other hand, the mere unthinking laziness of the dull mind is nothing but a defective delusion. Know thus.
Know that the inner silence – the undecreasing strength of unceasingly praising and worshipping, without worshipping, the Feet of Lord Shiva by the beautiful Supreme word [paravak], which is the pure unrising speech [that is, worshipping by Self-attention, the non-rising of the ego] – alone is the true and natural worship of the Reality.
Only those who have known their reality to be Shiva [the Self], are those who are soaked in the perfect and natural state of silence. Therefore having removed the “I”-sense in anything other than Shiva [that is, having given up one’s identification with all adjuncts such as the body], abide without action in Shiva.
The glory of the state of silence – in which one has merged and died in the real principle, God, who is the egoless Self, by enquiring “Who am I, the false first person?” – alone is the nature of the observance of self-surrender.
According to the prarabdha [karma that is working itself out during the present life] of the individual self, the Supreme makes the individual act until the prarabdha comes to an end. Efforts made will be a failure due to prarabdha; even in spite of obstructions, the prarabdha will bear fruit. Therefore to remain silent [without trying to oppose one’s prarabdha] is best.
It is not possible for anyone to do anything opposed to the ordinance of God, who has the ability to do anything and everything. Therefore to remain silent at the Lord’s Feet, having given up all the anxieties of the wicked, defective and delusive mind, is best.
If we scrutinise what the method is to end forever the movements of the wavering mind or ego, which is like a reflection in wavy water, we will discover that the method is for one to remain silently attending to oneself alone, and not for one to attend to that wavering mind, which will make one slip down from the state of Self.
Those who have perfect knowledge say that the state of true knowledge, in which one remains without “I” [the ego], alone is silence. In order to experience that silence, which is devoid of the feeling “I am this body”, clinging to the Self in the Heart is the spiritual practice.
The pure silence which shines forth when the “I”-sense is lost by abiding in the Heart, knowing one’s own real existing state instead of going outwards cherishing and attending to other things, alone is the limit of true knowledge [jnana].
Since, just as the activities seen within and by a dream-person become laughable and non-existent in the outlook of the waking person, even the activities of the individual self [such as his birth and death], which are an imagination seen by him within himself, become non-existent in the true awakened outlook of Self-knowledge, all of those activities, including his bondage and liberation are unreal and are a mere play of illusion.
When the pure gracious Supreme reveals the nature of Self, he who was in the dark room of ignorance will merge in the silence of Self-abidance, drowning in God-knowledge or existence-consciousness, which is the beauty of the Reality.
Know that silence – which is the perfect knowledge of the form of Self and which shines within when the ego reaches the Heart by rejecting all the juggleries of thoughts, which are rarely rejected – alone is the glorious Supreme word [paravak].
Only those who have not keenly listened to the Lord’s language of Grace [silence], which is the Supreme word, which shines forth when the wandering mind subsides, will say that the sound of a flute is sweet, that the sound of a veena is sweet, or that the prattling speech of their own babbling children is very sweet.
If the noise of thoughts rising incessantly within does not subside, the ineffable state of silence will not be revealed. Those whose thoughts have subsided within, will not leave the strong and perfect state of silence even in a big battlefield.
Tell me, is not the vocal silence observed by those who do not engage in Self-enquiry and who do not know the real goal, which is the silence that shines forth when the ego, “I am the fleshy and filthy body”, subsides and reaches the Heart, a mere mental endeavour?
The life of Self – the true knowledge which shines forth devoid of the ego-sense due to the drowning of the ego in its source when the madness of desire for the petty, illusory and delusive sense-objects has been completely destroyed – alone is That which can truly satisfy the mind.
Those whose Hearts are surging with joy by experiencing the ever-new ambrosia [amrita] of Self, which shines brightly in the pure silence, will not be spoilt in the world by experiencing the petty sense-objects, which give a little mad pleasure caused by mental delusion.
The Reality which is very clearly known by sages as the goal of all Vedas and Agamas, and the observance of Reality recommended by all the spiritual instructions, is nothing but silence, the state of Supreme peace.
The complete giving up of the other three objectives [purusharthas] of human existence beginning with righteousness, is the glorious state of peace, which is the nature of liberation [the fourth and only true goal]. Therefore completely giving up all thought of the other three false objectives [wealth, desire and righteousness], cling only to silence, the knowledge of the Supreme Self, which is Shiva.
Keep your mind still. That is enough. You will get spiritual help sitting in this hall if you keep yourself still. The aim of all practices is to give up all practices. When the mind becomes still, the power of the Self will be experienced. The waves of the Self are pervading everywhere. If the mind is in peace, one begins to experience them.
Question: How can silence be so powerful?
Ramana: A realised one sends out waves of spiritual influence, which draw many people towards him. Yet he may sit in a cave and maintain complete silence. We may listen to lectures upon truth and come away with hardly any grasp of the subject, but to come into contact with a realised one, though he speaks nothing, will give much more grasp of the subject. He never needs to go out among the public. If necessary he can use others as instruments.
The Guru is the bestower of silence who reveals the light of Self-knowledge that shines as the residual Reality. Spoken words are of no use whatsoever if the eyes of the Guru meet the eyes of the disciple.
Question: Why does not Bhagavan go about and preach the Truth to the people at large?
Ramana: How do you know I am not doing it? Does preaching consist in mounting a platform and haranguing the people around? Preaching is simple communication of knowledge; it can really be done in silence only. What do you think of a man who listens to a sermon for an hour and goes away without having been impressed by it so as to change his life? Compare him with another, who sits in a holy presence and goes away after some time with his outlook on life totally changed. Which is the better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out inner force?
Again, how does speech arise? First there is abstract knowledge. Out of this arises the ego, which in turn gives rise to thought, and thought to the spoken word. So the word is the great grandson of the original source. If the word can produce an effect, judge for yourself how much more powerful must be the preaching through silence.
Question: Does Bhagavan give initiation [diksha]?
Ramana: Silence is the best and the most potent initiation. That was practised by Sri Dakshinamurti. Initiation by touch, look, etc., are all of a lower order. Silent initiation changes the hearts of all.
Dakshinamurti observed silence when the disciples approached him. That is the highest form of initiation. It includes the other forms. There must be subject-object relationship established in the other diksha. First the subject must emanate and then the object. Unless these two are there how is the one to look at the other or touch him? Silent initiation is the most perfect; it comprises looking, touching. It will purify the individual in every way and establish him in the Reality.
Questioner: Swami Vivekananda says that a spiritual Guru can transfer spirituality substantially to the disciple.
Ramana: Is there a substance to be transferred? Transfer means eradication of the sense of being the disciple. The master does it. Not that the man was something at one time and metamorphosed later into another.
Question: Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?
Ramana: God, Grace and Guru are all synonymous and also Eternal and immanent. Is not the Self already within? Is it for the Guru to bestow it by his look? If a Guru thinks so, he does not deserve the name.
The books say that there are so many kinds of initiations: initiation by hand, by touch, by eye, etc. They also say that the Guru makes some rites with fire, water, japa or mantra and calls such fantastic performances initiation, as if the disciple becomes ripe only after such processes are gone through by the Guru.
If the individual is sought he is nowhere to be found. Such is the Guru. Such is Dakshinamurti. What did he do? He was silent when the disciples appeared before him. He maintained silence and the doubts of the disciples were dispelled, which means that they lost their individual identities. That is true knowledge [jnana] and not all the verbiage usually associated with it.
Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scriptures may be they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster and more emphatic than all the scriptures put together. These questions arise because of the feeling that, having been here so long, heard so much, exerted so hard, one has not gained anything. The work proceeding within is not apparent. In fact, the Guru is always within you.
Question: Can the Guru’s silence really bring about advanced states of spiritual awareness?
Ramana: There is an old story, which demonstrates the power of the Guru’s silence. Tattvaraya composed a bharani, a kind of poetic composition in Tamil, in honour of his Guru Swarupananda, and convened an assembly of learned scholars [pundits] to hear the work and assess its value. The pundits raised the objection that a bharani was only composed in honour of great heroes capable of killing a thousand elephants in battle and that it was not in order to compose such a work in honour of an ascetic.
Thereupon the author said, “Let us all go to my Guru and we shall have this matter settled there.”
They went to the Guru and, after they had all taken their seats, the author told his Guru the purpose of their visit. The Guru sat silent and all the others also remained in silence. The whole day passed, the night came, and some more days and nights, and yet all sat there silently, no thought at all occurring to any of them and nobody thinking or asking why they had come there. After three or four days like this, the Guru moved his mind a bit, and the people assembled immediately regained their thought activity. They then declared, “Conquering a thousand elephants is nothing beside this Guru’s power to conquer the rutting elephants of all our egos put together. So certainly he deserves the bharani in his honour!”
Question: How does this silent power work?
Ramana: Language is only a medium for communicating one’s thoughts to another. It is called in only after thoughts arise. Other thoughts arise after the “I”-thought rises and so the “I”-thought is the root of all conversation. When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.
Silence is ever speaking. It is a perennial flow of language, which is interrupted by speaking. These words I am speaking obstruct that mute language. For example, there is electricity flowing in a wire. With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as a fan. In the wire it remains as electric energy. Similarly also, silence is the Eternal flow of language, obstructed by words.
What one fails to know by conversation extending to several years can be known instantly in silence, or in front of silence. Dakshinamurti and his four disciples are a good example of this. This is the highest and most effective language.
Questioner: Bhagavan says, “The influence of the Self-realised being [jnani] steals into the devotee in silence.” Bhagavan also says, “Contact with great men [mahatmas] is one efficacious means of realising one’s true being.”
Ramana: Yes. What is the contradiction? Do you differentiate between a jnani and great men?
Ramana: Contact with them is good. They will work through silence. By speaking their power is reduced. Silence is most powerful. Speech is always less powerful than silence, so mental contact is the best.
Question: Does this hold good even after the dissolution of the physical body of the jnani or is it true only so long as he is in flesh and blood?
Ramana: Guru is not the physical form. So the contact will remain even after the physical form of the Guru vanishes. One can go to another Guru after one’s Guru passes away, but all Gurus are one and none of them is the form, you see. Always mental contact is the best.
Question: Is the operation of Grace the mind of the Guru acting on the mind of the disciple or is it a different process?
Ramana: The highest form of Grace is silence. It is also the highest teaching.
Questioner: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the loudest form of prayer.
Ramana: It is so for the seeker’s silence. The Guru’s silence is the loudest teaching. It is also Grace in its highest form. All other instructions are derived from the mind and are therefore secondary. Silence is the primary form. If the Guru is silent, the seeker’s mind gets purified by itself in the Guru’s presence.
Questioner: Sri Bhagavan’s silence is itself a powerful force. It brings about a certain peace of mind in us.
Ramana: Silence is never-ending speech. Vocal speech obstructs the other speech of silence. In silence one is in intimate contact with the surroundings. The silence of Dakshinamurti removed the doubts of the four sages. Mouna Vyakhya Prakatita Tattvam means the Truth expounded by silence. Silence is said to be exposition. Silence is so potent.
For vocal speech, organs of speech are necessary and they precede speech. But the other speech lies even beyond thought. It is in short transcendent speech or unspoken words [paravak].
Question: Can everyone benefit from this silence?
Ramana: Silence is the true teaching. It is the perfect instruction suited only for the most advanced seeker. The others are unable to draw full inspiration from it. Therefore they require words to explain the Truth. But Truth is beyond words. It does not admit of explanation. All that it is possible to do is to indicate it.
Questioner: It is said that one look of a mahatma is enough, that idols, pilgrimages, etc., are not so effective. I have been here for three months, but I do not know how I have been benefited by the look of Maharshi.
Ramana: The look has a purifying effect. Purification cannot be visualised. Just as a piece of coal takes a long time to be ignited, a piece of charcoal takes a shorter time, and a mass of gunpowder is instantaneously ignited, so it is with grades of men coming into contact with mahatmas. The fire of wisdom consumes all actions. Wisdom is acquired by association with the wise [satsanga] or rather its mental atmosphere.
Question: Can the Guru’s silence bring about realisation if the disciple makes no effort?
Ramana: In the proximity of a great master, the subtle impressions that lead to desires [vasanas] cease to be active, the mind becomes still and absorption in the Self [samadhi] results. Thus the disciple gains true knowledge and right experience in the presence of the master. To remain unshaken in it further efforts are necessary. Eventually the disciple will know it to be his real being and will thus be liberated even while alive.
Question: If the search has to be made within, is it necessary to be in the physical proximity of the master?
Ramana: It is necessary to be so until all doubts are at an end.
Questioner: I am not able to concentrate by myself. I am in search of a force to help me.
Ramana: Yes, that is called Grace. Individually we are incapable because the mind is weak. Grace is necessary. Serving a sadhu or a mendicant will bring it about. There is however nothing new to get. Just as a weak man comes under the control of a stronger one, the weak mind of a man comes under control easily in the presence of strong minded sadhus. That which is only Grace; there is nothing else.
Question: Is it necessary to serve the Guru physically?
Ramana: The scriptures say that one must serve a Guru for twelve years in order to attain Self-realisation. What does the Guru do? Does he hand it over to the disciple? Is not the Self always realised? What does the common belief mean then? Man is always the Self and yet he does not know it. Instead he confounds it with the non-Self, the body, etc. Such confusion is due to ignorance. If ignorance is wiped out the confusion will cease to exist and the true knowledge will be unfolded. By remaining in contact with realised sages the man gradually loses the ignorance until its removal is complete. The Eternal Self is thus revealed.
Question: You say that association with the wise and service of them is required of the disciple.
Ramana: Yes, the first really means association with the unmanifest Truth [Sat] or Absolute existence, but as very few can do that, they have to take second best which is association with the manifest Truth, that is, the Guru. Association with sages should be made because thoughts are so persistent. The sage has already overcome the mind and remains in peace. Being in his proximity helps to bring about this condition in others, otherwise there is no meaning in seeking his company. The Guru provides the needed strength for this, unseen by others.
Service is primarily to abide in the Self, but it also includes making the Guru’s body comfortable and looking after his place of abode. Contact with the Guru is also necessary, but this means spiritual contact. If the disciple finds the Guru internally, then it does not matter where he goes. Staying here or elsewhere must be understood to be the same and to have the same effect.
Question: My profession requires me to stay near my place of work. I cannot remain in the vicinity of sadhus. Can I have realisation even in the absence of satsanga?
Ramana: Sat is Aham Pratyaya Saram, the Self of selves. The sadhu is that Self of selves. He is immanent in all. Can anyone remain without the Self? No. So no one is away from satsanga.
Question: Is proximity to the Guru helpful?
Ramana: Do you mean physical proximity? What is the good of it? The mind alone matters. The mind must be contacted. Satsanga will make the mind sink into the Heart.
Such associations both mental and physical. The extremely visible being of the Guru pushes the mind inward. He is also in the Heart of the seeker and so draws the latter’s inward-bent mind into the Heart.
Questioner: All that I want to know is whether satsanga is necessary and whether my coming here will help me or not.
Ramana: First you must decide what is satsanga. It means association with Sat or Reality. One who knows or has realised Sat is also regarded as Sat. Such association with Sat or with one who knows Sat is absolutely necessary for all. Shankara has said that in all the three worlds there is no boat like satsanga to carry one safely across the ocean of births and deaths.
Satsanga means association [sanga] with Sat. Sat is only the Self. Since the Self is not now understood to be Sat, the company of the sage who has thus understood it is sought. That is satsanga. Introversion results. Then Sat is revealed.
source Inner Quest