Question : It was stated that Brahman is manifest as the Self in the form ‘I-I’, in the heart. To facilitate an understanding of this statement, can it be still further explained?
Ramana Maharshi - Is it not within the experience of all that during deep sleep, swoon, etc., there is no knowledge whatsoever, i.e. neither self-knowledge nor other-knowledge? Afterwards, when there is experience of the form “I have woken up from sleep” or “I have recovered from swoon” - is that not a mode of specific knowledge that has arisen from the aforementioned distinctionless state? This specific knowledge is called vijnana.
This vijnana becomes manifest only as pertaining to either the Self or the not-self, and not by itself. When it pertains to the Self, it is called true knowledge, knowledge in the form of that mental mode whose object is the Self, or knowledge which has for its content the impartite (Self); and when it relates to the not-self, it is called ignorance. The state of this vijnana, when it pertains to the Self and is manifest as of the form of the Self, is said to be the ‘I’-manifestation.
This manifestation cannot take place as apart from the Real (i.e. the Self). It is this manifestation that serves as the mark for the direct experience of the Real. Yet, this by itself cannot constitute the state of being the Real. That, depending on which this manifestation takes place is the basic reality which is also called prajnana. The Vedantic text “prajnanam brahma” teaches the same truth.
Know this as the purport of the scripture also. The Self which is self-luminous and the witness of
everything manifests itself as residing in the vijnanakosa (sheath of the intellect). By the mental
mode which is impartite, seize this Self as your goal and enjoy it as the Self.