Question : If the ‘I’ is an illusion, who is it that casts off the illusion?
Ramana Maharshi : The ‘I’ casts off the illusion of the ‘I’ and yet remains ‘I’. Such is the paradox of Self-realisation. The Realised do not see any paradox in it. Consider the case of the worshipper. He approaches God and prays to be absorbed in Him. He then surrenders himself in faith and by concentration. And what remains afterwards?
In the place of the original ‘I’, self-surrender leaves a residuum of God in which the ‘I’ is lost. That is the highest form of devotion or surrender and the peak of detachment. You may give up this and that of ‘my’ possessions, but if, instead, you give up ‘I’ and ‘mine’ all is given up at a stroke and the very seed of possession is destroyed.
Thus the evil is nipped in the bud or crushed in the germ. But detachment must be very strong to do this. The craving to do it must equal the craving of a man who is held under water to rise to the surface and breathe.