Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi About 'aham-sphurana'  (Read 3370 times)


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Ramana Maharshi About 'aham-sphurana'
« on: May 17, 2010, 01:28:00 PM »
The mind is nothing other than the ‘I’. The mind and the ego are one and the same. The others, [i.e. the other two antahkaranas or inner organs] the intellect and chittam [the storehouse of tendencies] are only this. Mind [manas], intellect [buddhi], the storehouse of tendencies [chittam] and ego [ahankara]; all these are only the one mind itself. This is like different names [such as son, husband, father, clerk, Hindu, etc.] being given to a man according to his different functions. The individual soul is nothing but this mind or ego…

The ‘I-thought’ which rises in this manner appears in the form of the three gunas, and of these three, the rajas and tamas aspects cling to and identify with the body. The remaining one which is pure sattva is alone the natural characteristic of the mind, and this stands clinging to the reality. However, in this pure sattvic state, the ‘I-thought’ is no longer really a thought, it is the Heart itself.

'The wise understand the apparent meaning of prajnana [consciousness] to be the mind, and its true meaning to be the Heart. The Supreme is not other than the Heart. ' (Sri Ramana Gita, V. 18)

Sri Bhagavan is saying that when the mind is active, that is, dominated by rajas and tamas, identification with the body takes place, but when the mind is quiet and still, that is, in its pure sattvic state, it subsides into the Heart until only the Heart remains. Sri Bhagavan has stated in the quotations from Maharshi’s Gospel and Self Enquiry that were given earlier in this article that the mind is nothing other than the ‘I’-thought.

When this ‘I-thought identifies itself with objects, the rajasic and tamasic mind arises, but when the ‘I’-thought alone remains, it can be termed the sattvic mind. However, Sri Bhagavan states in this section that the term ‘sattvic mind’ is something of a misnomer, for when only the feeling of ‘I’ remains, the mind has ceased to exist.

Sri Bhagavan often stated that the biggest obstacle to Self-realisation is the ‘I am the body’ idea. Since he states here that a mind dominated by rajas and tamas identifies with and clings to the body, a rajasic or a tamasic mind is obviously an unproductive vehicle for sadhana. According to Sri Bhagavan, realisation is only attained by abiding in the sattvic state. However, since the mind has ceased to exist in this state, one cannot say that abidance in this state is abidance in the mind; rather, it is abidance in the state where the mind is absent.

When the mind, the distinctive knowledge that rises from the non-distinctive state of ‘I’, clings to and identifies with the Self, it is called true knowledge. It may also be called ‘knowledge which is the movement of the mind in the form of the Self’ or ‘knowledge in an unbroken form’. The state in which this pure sattvic mind shines clinging to the Self is called ‘aham-sphurana’.

In this passage Sri Bhagavan is describing the state where the ‘I’ feeling alone remains and clings to the Self. This state is not the final state of realisation, for in this state there is still the dualistic feeling that there is an ‘I’ that is clinging to the Self. Bhagavan calls this state the ‘aham-sphurana’ and it may be described as the subjective experience of the feeling of ‘I’ that manifests when the mind is quiet and still.

This sphurana cannot remain independently apart from the reality, but it is the correct sign that indicates the forthcoming direct experience of that reality. The source to which this sphurana clings alone is called the reality or pure consciousness. In Vedanta this is expressed by the saying ‘prajnanam Brahma’, or pure consciousness is the absolute reality. When the pure sattvic mind abides in that sphurana and attends to its source, it is called upasana or meditation; when one is firmly established in the state which is the source of that mind, this is called jnana.

'During the time of practice the natural state is called upasana [meditation], and when that state becomes firmly and permanently established it is called jnana.’ (Sri Ramana Gita, 1.13)

…Therefore, leaving the corpse-like body as an actual corpse, and remaining without even uttering the word ‘I’ by mouth, if one now keenly enquires ‘What is it that rises as I?’, then in the heart a certain soundless sphurana, ‘I-I’ [that is, an awareness which is single and undivided, the thoughts which are many and divided having disappeared], alone will shine forth of its own accord.If one remains still without leaving it, even the sphurana [having completely annihilated the sense of the individuality, the form of the ego ‘I am the body’], will itself in the end subside, just like the flame that catches the camphor. This alone is said to be liberation by great ones and scriptures.

In the same way that a piece of camphor, once it has caught fire, will not subside until the last trace of camphor is burnt, so when the aham sphurana is experienced it will not subside until the last trace of the ego is destroyed. That is, when the mind or ‘I’-thought turns 180 degrees away from the non-Self and turns towards the Self, it is caught in the grip of the Self. After this, it cannot turn towards the non-Self again. This is the state of sphurana, which is the correct sign indicating that the reality is about to be experienced directly.

But since in this state there is still a feeling of attending to the Self, this sphurana is not actually the Self, the reality; the reality is the source to which this sphurana attends or clings. When even this feeling of attending to the Self subsides, the sphurana itself subsides, and only being remains. This state, in which even the slightest trace of the ego or individuality has been completely annihilated, is called liberation, the direct experience of the reality, or the natural state of the Self (sahajatma sthiti).

In Self Enquiry (Chapter 7) Sri Bhagavan says:

The mind alone is the kundalini. It is described otherwise as a serpent only for those having a gross outlook. The six yogic centres and so on are all only mental imaginations and are meant only for beginners in yoga.The same comments apply equally well to the description of the Heart as a downward-facing lily-bud.





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Re: Ramana Maharshi About 'aham-sphurana'
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2010, 10:46:42 AM »

Dear prasanth,

Again, an excellent post.

Brahmasri Nochur Venkataraman in his sat-sangh on Ulladu
Narpadu, says:

Bhagavan Ramana says that there are three states:

Aham -  the I thought.
Aham Sphurana - the clinging of the sattvic mind with the Self.
                           The first glimpse or foretaste.

Aham Sphurti  -  The total abidance in the Self, a mindless or
                            ego less state of Sahaja Nishta.

Arunachala Siva.