Friday, February 20, 2009

Ramana Maharshi : Who am I? How is the answer to be found

Question : Who am I? How is the answer to be found?
Ramana Maharshi : Ask yourself the question. The body (annamayakosa) and its functions are not ‘I’. Going deeper, the mind (manomayakosa) and its functions are not ‘I’. The next step takes one to the question: Wherefrom do these thoughts arise? The thoughts may be spontaneous, superficial, or analytical.

They operate in the mind. Then who is aware of them? The existence of thoughts, their clear conception and operation, become evident to the individual. This analysis leads to the conclusion that the individuality is operative as the cogniser of the existence of thoughts and their sequence.

This individuality is the ego, or, as people say, ‘I’. Vijnanamayakosa (intellect) is only the sheath of the ‘I’ and not the ‘I’ itself. Enquiring further, the questions arise: What is this ‘I’? Wherefrom does it come? ‘I’ was not aware in sleep. Simultaneously with its rise, sleep changes to dream and
wakefulness. But I am not concerned with the dream state just now.

Who am I now, in the wakeful state? If I originated on waking from sleep, then the ‘I’ was covered up with ignorance. Such an ignorant ‘I’ cannot be what the scriptures refer to or the wise affirm. ‘I’ am beyond even sleep; ‘I’ must be here and now, and must be what I was all along in sleep and dream also, unaffected by the qualities of these states. ‘I’ must therefore be the unqualified substratum underlying these three states (after anandamayakosa is transcended).

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