Author Topic: self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra  (Read 4770 times)


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self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra
« on: March 28, 2013, 06:38:33 PM »
Dear friends,
Can any one on this blessed forum inform, on how the above method of self enquiry as first propounded by Bhagavan to Shri Ganapati Muni be practised in detail.
Thanks and regards,
Anand Sundaram.
Sundaram Anand


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Re: self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2013, 06:47:27 PM »
Dear Anand,

Sri Bhagavan said to Muni:  find out where the mantram becomes quiescent, where the mantram ends. That place is Heart.
For example, if you keeping on chanting Om Om Om, you will experience that the sound m finally merges within the Heart.
This happens in all cases of mantras. You can try and experiment.

Arunachala Siva. 


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Re: self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2013, 06:53:25 PM »
Dear Sri Anana Sundaram,

I am not sure what Bhagavan ecsactly said to Sri Ganapati Muni,but Here is the explanation of Self enquiry given by Graham in this very forum. I find it very helpful.

" Bhagavan was very clear. His teaching is to inquire "Who am I?" or "To whom does this thought arise?" in order to focus the attention on the source of the question, there is no answer, except awareness of 'you'. You simply focus your attention on the answer and remain as that. When the mind strays you bring it back - that's all.

Bhagavan also said that 'Who am I?' is not really correct, 'Whence am I?' is more correct. This clearly implies that the inquiry is not a thought but paying attention to the source of it.

There is no ego apart from the idea of it. Ego is only thought, an aberration on the pure unblemished Self. It arises from the Self and depends upon the Self for its existence; it is never apart from the Self and is in fact the Self, but forgetful of its true nature. It believes the lie of its own existence. 

The purpose of the inquiry is to discover the lie and then remain free from it by practicing Self or Brahman. The more you practice, the more tenuous the lie becomes until finally it loses its power to hold you.

I remember reading somewhere that the urge to seek the Self arises from the Self, not from the ego, thus any effort expended in that direction is never wasted.
" First and foremost Bhagavan stated that self-enquiry should be performed with the same intensity as that of a drowning man struggling for air, only then can it succeed.

Self-enquiry is holding on to the awareness of being that ‘you already are’. There is only one awareness, the one who is reading this article is the ego and the Self all in one, but the ego is the apparition covering the pure Self and that has to die to the real Self in order that self-realisation can take place. This is a mystery at first, but once accomplished it is very clearly understood.

Bhagavan often made the comparison of the actor in a Play - during the Play the actor assumes a completely different role, yet retains his true nature and combines the two. A good actor truly believes he is the role that he is playing, but after it is finished he discards the role and reverts to his original nature. In our case we have forgotten who we are and believe that our role is the Reality. Just as the actor is not two Beings, not two ‘I’s’, nor are we two ‘I’s’. It really is that simple. 

However, our ingrained belief that the role we play is in fact the Reality is so strong, that it requires intense and prolonged effort to remove it.

To do this you must concentrate totally upon the awareness of ‘you’, without thought of any kind, or try to catch the ‘I-thought’ as it rises from within and then hold on to that firmly to the exclusion of all else.

The ‘I’ thought that you have to catch is a tangible and distinct force that rises from within the apparition created by the ego. It is this force that sustains the ego and gives it life, just as the actor gives life to his part in the play through his own personality. There is however an acute difference. The pure ‘I’ thought is devoid of personality as we normally understand it – it just IS. 

This process requires intense, unbroken concentration, and in the majority of cases takes many years of hard effort and should be carried out, if possible, with eyes open. This does not involve physical or emotional strain of any kind, and strain should always be avoided.

When successful, awareness withdraws from the body into the crown of the head – this is usually very fast and experienced as receding from the feet upwards. At this point the breath becomes automatically controlled separate from that awareness of ‘being’ and it might even stop altogether. Even in this minor stage there is no concern whether the breath stops or not, because the body is already perceived as a heavy, cold and totally lifeless thing, not ‘you’, but something alien to you, a burden that you do not want. The awareness focussed in the crown of the head is however pristine in clarity and thought is suspended. This expansion of consciousness though devoid of bodily attachment is still the dark ego/mind complex.

At this point and in all of the following experiences the attention should be carefully, but powerfully turned towards the witness of all of this, with an intense thought-free longing to know who it is that sees it.

That in a nutshell is the process of Self-enquiry.

By Graham-from the topic-"Question on self-enquiry."


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Re: self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2013, 07:02:44 PM »
from: Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
by David Godman

Question: Should I go on asking ‘Who am I?’ without answering? Who asks whom? Which Bhavana (attitude) should be in the mind at the time of enquiry? What is ‘I’, the Self or the ego?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: In the enquiry ‘Who am I?’, ‘I’ is the ego. The question really means, what is the source or origin of this ego? You need not have any Bhavana (attitude) in the mind. All that is required is that you must give up the Bhavana (attitude) that you are the body, of such and such a description, with such and such a name, etc. There is no need to have a Bhavana about your real nature. It exists as it always does. It is real and no Bhavana.

Question: But is it not funny that the ‘I’ should be searching for the ‘I’? Does not the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ turn out in the end to be an empty formula? Or, am I to put the question to myself endlessly, repeating it like some mantra?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Self-enquiry is certainly not an empty formula and it is more than the repetition of any mantra. If the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ were a mere mental questioning, it would not be of much value. The very purpose of self-enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source. It is not, therefore, a case of one ‘I’ searching for another ‘I’. Much less is self-enquiry an empty formula, for it involves an intense activity of the entire mind to keep it steadily poised in pure Self-awareness.

Question: Is it enough if I spend some time in the mornings and some time in the evenings for this atma-vichara (self-enquiry)? Or should I do it always, even when I am writing or walking?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: What is your real nature? Is it writing, walking or being? The one unalterable reality is being. Until you realise that state of pure being you should pursue the enquiry. If once you are established in it there will be no further worry.

No one will enquire into the source of thoughts unless thoughts arise. So long as you think ‘I am walking’ or ‘I am writing’, enquire who does it.

Question: If I go on rejecting thoughts can I call it Vichara (enquiry)?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: It may be a stepping stone. But really vichara begins when you cling to your Self and are already off the mental movement, the thought waves.

Question: Then vichara (enquiry) is not intellectual?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: No, it is Antara Vichara, inner quest.

Holding the mind and investigating it is advised for a beginner. But what is mind after all? It is a projection of the Self. See for whom it appears and from where it rises. The ‘I’-thought will be found to be the root-cause. Go deeper. The ‘I’-thought disappears and there is an infinitely expanded ‘I’-consciousness.


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Re: self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 07:12:13 PM »
from: Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
by David Godman

Question: When I think ‘Who am I?’, the answer comes ‘I am not this mortal body but I am Chaitanya, Atma (consciousness, the Self).’ And suddenly another question arises, ‘Why has Atma (Self) come into Maya (illusion)?’ or in other words, ‘Why has God created this world?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: To enquire ‘Who am I?’ really means trying to find out the source of the ego or the ‘I’-thought. You are not to think of other thoughts, such as ‘I am not this body’. Seeking the source of ‘I’ serves as a means of getting rid of all other thoughts. We should not give scope to other thoughts, such as you mention, but must keep the attention fixed on finding out the source of the ‘I’-thought by asking, as each thought arises, to whom the thought arises. If the answer is ‘I get the thought’ continue the enquiry by asking ‘Who is this "I" and what is its source?’

Question: Am I to keep on repeating ‘Who am I?’ so as to makes a mantra of it?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: No. ‘Who am I?’ is not a mantra. It means that you must find out where in you arises the ‘I’-thought, which is the source of all other thoughts.

Question: Shall I meditate on ‘I am Brahman’ (Aham Brahmasmi)?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The text is not meant for thinking ‘I am Brahman’. Aham (‘I’) is known to every one. Find out the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is already Brahman. You need not think so. Simply find out the ‘I’.

Question: Is not discarding the sheaths (Neti-Neti) mentioned in the sastras?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: After the rise of the ‘I’-thought there is the false identification of the ‘I’ with the body, the senses, the mind, etc. ‘I’ is wrongly associated with them and the true ‘I’ is lost sight of. In order to sift the pure ‘I’ from the contaminated ‘I’, this discarding is mentioned. But it does not mean exactly discarding of the non-self, it means the finding of the real Self. The real Self is the infinite ‘I’. That ‘I’ is perfection. It is eternal. It has no origin and no end. The other ‘I’ is born and also dies. It is impermanent. See to whom the changing thoughts belong. They will be found to arise after the ‘I’-thought. Hold the ‘I’-thought and they subside. Trace back the source of the ‘I’-thought. The Self alone will remain

Question: It is difficult to follow. I understand the theory. But what is the practice?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The other methods are meant for those who cannot take to the investigation of the Self. Even to repeat Aham Brahmasmi or think of it, a doer is necessary. Who is it? It is ‘I’. Be that ‘I’. It is the direct method. The other methods also will ultimately lead everyone to this method of the investigation of the Self.

Questioner: I am aware of the ‘I’. Yet my troubles are not ended.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: This ‘I’-thought is not pure. It is contaminated with the association of the body and senses. See to whom the trouble is. It is to the ‘I’-thought. Hold it. Then the other thoughts vanish.

Question: Yes. How to do it? That is the whole trouble.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Think ‘I, I’, and hold to that one thought to the exclusion of all others.

Question: Is not affirmation of God more effective than the quest, ‘Who am I?’ Affirmation is positive, whereas the other is negation. Moreover, it indicates separateness.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: So long as you seek to know how to realise, this advice is given to find your Self. Your seeking the method denotes your separateness.

Question: Is it not better to say ‘I am the Supreme Being’ than ask ‘Who am I?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Who affirms? There must be one to do it. Find that one.

Question: Is not meditation better than investigation?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Meditation implies mental imagery, whereas investigation is for the reality. The former is objective, whereas the latter is subjective.

Questioner: There must be a scientific approach to this subject.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: To eschew unreality and seek the reality is scientific.

Questioner: I mean there must a gradual elimination, first of the mind, then of the intellect, then of the ego.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Self alone is real. All others are unreal. The mind and intellect do not remain apart from you.

The Bible says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Stillness is the sole requisite for the realisation of the Self as God.

Question: Is Soham (the affirmation ‘I am He’) the same as ‘Who am I?’

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Aham (‘I’) alone is common to them. One is Soham. The other is Koham (Who am I?). They are different. Why should we go on saying soham? One must find out the real ‘I’. In the question ‘Who am I?’, ‘I’ refers to the ego. Trying to trace it and find its source, we see it has no separate existence but merges in the real ‘I’.

You see the difficulty. Vichara (enquiry) is different in method from the meditation Sivoham or Soham (‘I am Siva’ or ‘I am He’). I rather lay stress upon Self-knowledge, for you are first concerned with yourself before you proceed to know the world and its Lord. The soham meditation or ‘I am Brahman’ meditation is more or less a mental thought. But the quest for the Self I speak of is a direct method, indeed superior to the other meditation. The moment you start looking for the self and go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to take you in. Then whatever is done is done by something else and you have no hand in it. In this process, all doubts and discussions are automatically given up just as one who sleeps forgets, for the time being, all his cares.

Question: What certainty is there that something else waits there to welcome me?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: When one is a sufficiently developed soul (pakvi) one becomes naturally convinced.

Question: How is this development possible?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Various answers are given. But whatever the previous development, Vichara quickens the development.

Questioner: That is arguing in a circle. I am developed and so I am suitable for the quest but the quest itself causes me to develop.


Sri Ramana Maharshi: The mind has always this sort of difficulty. It wants a certain theory to satisfy itself. Really, no theory is necessary for the man who seriously desires to approach God or to realise his own true being.


Question: No doubt the method taught by Bhagavan is direct. But it is so difficult. We do not know how to begin it. If we go on asking, ‘Who am I?, who am I?’ like a japa (repetition of the name of God) or a mantra, it becomes dull. In other methods there is something preliminary and positive with which one can begin and then go step by step. But in Bhagavan’s method, there is no such thing, and to seek the Self at once, though direct, is difficult.


Sri Ramana Maharshi: You yourself concede it is the direct method. It is the direct and easy method. When going after other things that are alien to us is so easy, how can it be difficult for one to go to one’s own Self? You talk of where to begin? There is no beginning and no end. You are yourself in the beginning and the end. If you are here and the Self somewhere else, and you have to reach that Self, you may be told how to start, how to travel and then how to reach

Suppose you who are now in Ramanasramam ask, ‘I want to go to Ramanasramam. How shall I start and how to reach it?’, what is one to say? A man’s search for the Self is like that. He is always the Self and nothing else.


You say ‘Who am I?’ becomes a japa. It is not meant that you should go on asking ‘Who am I?’ In that case, thought will not so easily die. In the direct method, as you call it, in asking yourself ‘Who am I?’, you are told to concentrate within yourself where the ‘I’-thought, the root of all other thoughts, arise. As the Self is not outside but inside you, you are asked to dive within, instead of going without. What can be more easy than going to yourself?


But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal


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Re: self enquiry by tracing the source of sound of mantra
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 07:18:06 PM »

 But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal. That is why so many different methods have been taught. Each of them will appeal to some as the best and easiest. That is according to their Pakva or fitness. But to some, nothing except the Vichara Marga (the path of enquiry) will appeal. They will ask, ‘You want me to know or to see this or that. But who is the knower, the seer?’ Whatever other method may be chosen, there will be always a doer. That cannot be escaped. One must find out who the doer is. Till then, the Sadhana (spiritual practice) cannot be ended. So eventually all must come to find out ‘Who am I?’

You complain that there is nothing preliminary or positive to start with. You have the ‘I’ to start with. You know you exist always, whereas the body does not exist always, for example in sleep. Sleep reveals that you exist even without a body. We identify the ‘I’ with the body, we regard the Self as having a body, and as having limits, and hence all our trouble.

All that we have to do is to give up identifying the Self with the body, with forms and limits, and then we shall know ourselves as the Self that we always are.

Question: Am I to think ‘Who am I?"

Sri Ramana Maharshi: You have known that the ‘I’-thought springs forth. Hold the ‘I’-thought and find its source.

Question: May I know the way?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Do as you have now been told and see.

Questioner: I do not understand what I should do.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: If it is anything objective the way can be shown objectively. This is subjective.

Questioner: But I do not understand.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: What! Do you not understand that you are?

Questioner: Please tell me the way.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Is it necessary to show the way in the interior of your own home? This is within you.

Sorry for mistakes,i am posting from my phone.

With love and prayers,