Ramana Maharshi : How do you meditate?
Devotee : I begin by asking myself ‘Who am I?’ and eliminate the body as not ‘I’, the breath as not ‘I’, the mind as not ‘I’, but then I am unable to proceed further.
Ramana Maharshi : Well, that is all right so far as the mind goes. Your process is only mental. Actually all the scriptures mention this process only in order to guide the seeker to the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly indicated; that is why this mental process is used.
You see, he who eliminates all the ‘not-I’ cannot eliminate the ‘I’. In order to be able to say ‘I am not this’ or ‘I am That’, there must be the ‘I’ to say it. This ‘I’ is only the ego, or the ‘I’-thought. After the rising up of this ‘I’-thought, all other thoughts arise. The ‘I’-thought is therefore the root thought. If the root is pulled out, all the rest is uprooted at the same time.
Therefore seek the root ‘I’; question yourself: ‘Who am I?’; find out the source of the ‘I’. Then all these problems will vanish and the pure Self alone will remain.
Devotee : But how am I to do it?
Ramana Maharshi : The ‘I’ is always there, whether in deep sleep, in dream or in the waking state. The one who sleeps is the same as the one who is now speaking. There is always the feeling of ‘I’. If it were not so you would have to deny your existence. But you do not. You say: ‘I am’. Find out who is.
Devotee: I still do not understand. You say the ‘I’ is now the false ‘I’. How am I to eliminate this wrong ‘I’?
Ramana Maharshi : You need not eliminate any false ‘I’. How can ‘I’ eliminate itself? All that you need do is to find out its origin and stay there. Your effort can extend only so far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach It.