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The Path of Sri Ramana

Synopsis

by Michael James

Introduction

The Path of Sri Ramana is an English translation of ஸ்ரீ ரமண வழி (Sri Ramana Vazhi), a Tamil book written by Sri Sadhu Om, in which he explains in great depth and detail the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

Sri Ramana taught us that the only means by which we can attain the supreme happiness of true self-knowledge is atma-vichara – self-investigation or self-enquiry – which is the simple practice of keenly scrutinising or attending to our essential self-conscious being, which we always experience as ‘I am’, in order to know ‘who am I?’

However, he also described this practice of atma-vichara or self-investigation as the path of atma-samarpana or self-surrender, because unless we give up our false self we cannot truly know or be clearly conscious of our real self.

Our false finite self or mind rises by imagining itself to be a physical body, and it sustains its imaginary existence by constantly attending to thoughts or objects, which it experiences as other than itself. Without attending to otherness, we cannot continue imagining ourself to be this mind. Therefore when we turn our attention away from all otherness towards our own essential self, our mind will subside and lose its existence as a seemingly separate entity.

Since our true nature is not thinking, doing or knowing anything other than ourself, but is just self-conscious being, we will become clearly conscious of our true nature only to the extent to which we willingly surrender our constantly thinking, doing and object-knowing mind. The reason why we think and know objects other than ourself is that we love to do so, and we love to do so because we wrongly imagine that we can obtain happiness thereby. Therefore we will surrender our thinking mind and remain as our true self-conscious being only when we understand that happiness does not exist in anything other than our own real self, and when our love just to be our real self thereby becomes greater than our love to think or know any other thing.

In other words, in order to succeed in our efforts to know our real infinite self and thereby to surrender our false finite self, we must be consumed by overwhelming love for our own true self-conscious being, ‘I am’. True bhakti or devotion, therefore, is the perfectly non-dual love that we should each have for our own real self or essential being.

Therefore, though Sri Ramana taught us that in order to experience the infinite happiness of true self-knowledge we must attempt either to know our real self by investigating ‘who am I?’ or to separate ourself from our false self by surrendering it to God, he also repeatedly emphasised the truth that in essence these two paths are one, because we cannot know our real self without surrendering our false self – our illusory sense of being this body-bound mind – and we cannot relinquish our false self without knowing who or what we really are.

Thus self-enquiry and self-surrender – the path of jnana or true knowledge and the path of bhakti or true love – are not two different paths, but are just two inseparable aspects of the same single path – the one and only path by which we can experience the infinite happiness of true self-knowledge.

In Part One of The Path of Sri Ramana Sri Sadhu Om explains the first of these two aspects of this one path, namely the practice of self-enquiry, while in Part Two he explains various other closely related aspects of Sri Ramana’s teachings, including the practice of self-surrender.

Part One Part Two