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Glimpses of the Life and Teachings of
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
By Frank H. Humphreys, R. F. C. - 3rd Edition 1996

Prefatory Note


Humphrey's narration of his experiences with Sri Bhagavan is so simple and arresting that the readers find in it an excellent presentation of Bhagavan's teachings - - - Publisher




This is an impressive and instructive description by a young man (eager in search of Mahatmas for enlightenment) of his visit to, and experiences with Mahatma Sri Ramana Maharshi.


I took to him a bundle of photographs of great men including those of our Maharshi and Ganapathi Muni. I silently placed the bundle before him on his table and quietly went to Mr. L. Clift, another police gentleman whom I was then teaching. When I returned to the writer of this booklet an hour later, he invited me with the words: "There is the likeness of your Guru. Is he not your preceptor? Tell me.'' Thus saying, he pointed to me the photograph of our Ganapathi Sastriar separated from others. This act of his surprised me. I was caught and I could not hide me or my master. I had regarded (and I do still regard) Ganapathi Sastriar as my Guru.


About the end of 1911, he returned from the hills. One day when I was teaching him Telugu in Vellore, he asked me for paper and pencil and drew a picture of a mountain cave with some sage standing at its entrance and a stream gently flowing down the hill in front of the cave. He said he saw this in his sleep and asked me what it would be. Immediately the thought of our Maharshi, then dwelling in the Virupaksha Cave came to my mind and I told him about Sri Ramana Paramatma. From the day he saw Ganapathi Sastrigal in his dream, he had been asking and urging me to take him to the Sastriar. How he happened to meet Ganapathi Sastriar and how he was taken to the Maharshi, he has himself clearly explained in his book. Subsequently he took several independent trips to our Master whenever there was a doubt to be cleared or a question to be asked.


Now I shall relate what transpired in the presence of the Maharshi during his first visit to him. He saluted the Mahatma and remained in silent prayer and meditation for a few minutes. When permitted to talk, the first question he asked was, "Master, will I, be helpful to the world?'' The Mahatma's answer was "Help yourself, you will help the world''. The same question repeated had the same reply with observation that he was in the world but not different (separate) from it, nor was it different from him, and that therefore by helping himself, he would help the world - (meaning thereby the one-ness of Jiva with Atman).


the next and the last question was: "Master, can I perform miracles as Sri Krishna and Jesus did?'' This question was met by a counter question: "Were they, at the time when they performed miracles, aware that they were performing miracles?'' Mr. Humphreys, after a minute's silence, replied: "No, Master. They were only the media through which God's power did its work.'' How much importance can be attached to things mystic in nature is vividly explained in this book.


S. Narasimhayya


2 - Frank Meets His First Master


About three months ago, I met in my sleep a great man. I spoke about it to the Telugu Munshi here. The Munshi brought me some pictures. I picked out the man at once from the others. Last Friday, this man was coming through Vellore to go to a Theosophical Conference, at Tiruvannamalai. He does not belong to the Theosophical Society. All Masters work for the common good.


I learned later that he was the first Sanskrit scholar in India, and that is saying something out here where Sanskrit is the language of the Scriptures and every student of wisdom learns it. He knows the sciences inside out, and many languages. You remember how the Apostles suddenly "spoke with tongues.'' Well, there are people here, who have known this man all his life, and they know that up till one day, he did not speak a word of Tamil, a very difficult language. Fifteen days afterwards, he was able to give a long lecture in pure Tamil and to read it and write it as well as any of the professors.


I asked him how he achieved this feat and he replied, "By meditation.'' Think of that! no book! no grammar! simply meditating on God, as these men know-how to, and asking to be taught Tamil.


3 - Frank visits the Maharshi


Then Sastriar told me to look the Maharshi in the eyes, and not to turn my gaze. For half an hour I looked Him in the eyes which never changed their expression of deep contemplation. I began to realize somewhat that the body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost. I could only feel His body was not the man, it was the instrument of God, merely a sitting motionless corpse from which God was radiating terrifically. My own sensations were indescribable.


6 - Franks Version of the Mahatma's Teaching


The phenomena we see are curious and surprising-but the most marvellous thing of it all we do not realise and that is that one, and only one, illimitable force is responsible for:-


(a) All the phenomena we see,
(b) The act of our seeing them.


Do not fix your attention on all these changing things of life, death, and phenomena. Do not think of even the actual act of seeing them or perceiving them but only of that which sees all these things. That which is responsible for it all. This will seem nearly impossible at first, but by degrees the result will be felt. It takes years of steady, daily practice, but that is how a Master is made. Give yourself a quarter of an hour a day. Keep your eyes open, and try to keep the mind unshakenly fixed on That Which Sees. It is inside yourself. Do not expect to find that "That'' is something definite on which the mind can be fixed easily; it will not be so. Though it takes years to find that "That'', the results of this concentration will soon show themselves in four or five month's time-in all sorts of unconscious clairvoyance, in peace of mind, in power to deal with troubles, in power all round-always unconscious power. I have given you this teaching in the same words as the Masters give it to their intimate chelas. From now onwards let your whole thought in meditation be not on the act of seeing nor on what you see, but immovably on That Which Sees.


10 - Realisation


Realisation is nothing but seeing God literally. You must read all I write literally. Our greatest mistake is that we think of God as acting symbolically and allegorically, instead of practically and literally.


Take a piece of glass, paint colours and forms on it, and put into a magic lantern, turn on a white light, and the colours and forms painted on the glass are reproduced on the screen. If that light were not turned on, you would not see the colours of the slide on the screen.


So is it with an ordinary man. His mind is like the screen. On it shines the light, dulled and changed because he has allowed the many-sided world to stand in the way of the Light (God). He sees only the effects of Light (God) instead of the Light (God) Himself, and his mind reflects the effects he sees just as the screen reflects the colours on the glass. Take away the prism and the colours vanish, absorbed back into the white light from whence they came. Take away the colours from the slide and the light shines clearly through. Take away our sight the world of effects we see, and let us look only into the causes, and we shall see the Light (God).


A Master in meditation, though the eyes and ears be open, fixes his attention so firmly on "That which Sees,'' that he neither sees nor hears, nor has any physical consciousness at all - nor mental either, but only spiritual.


We must take away the world, which causes our doubts, which clouds our mind, and the light of God will shine clearly through. How is the world taken away? When, for example, instead of seeing a man you say, "This is God animating a body,'' which body answers, more or less perfectly, to the direction of God, as a ship answers more or less perfectly to her helm.


11 - Sins


Jesus, the man, was utterly unconscious when he worked His miracles, and spoke His wonderful words. It was the White Light, the Life, Who is the cause and the effect, acting in perfect concert. "My Father and I are One.'' Give up the idea "I'' and "Mine''. Can the body possess anything? Lifeless tools are both, unless the Light of God be shining through. These things which we see and sense are only the split-up colours of the One Illimitable Spirit.


12 - Worship


How can you best worship God? Why, by not trying to worship Him but by giving up your whole self to Him, and showing that every thought, every action, is only a working of that One Life (God) - more or less perfect according as it is unconscious or conscious.


God works perfectly in our unconscious virtuous actions. A Master when instructing is far from any thought of instructing; but to feel a doubt or a difficulty in his presence is to call forth, at once, before you can express the doubt, the wonderful words which will clear away that doubt. The words never fail and the Master with his heart fixed on God, realising perfectly that no action is a personal one, making no claims to have either originated the thought or to have been the means of destroying a doubt, saying never "I'' or "Mine,'' seeing only God in every thought and action, whether they be yours or his, feels no surprise, no especial pleasure to himself in having allayed your doubt. He never desires to feel pleasure. He says:


"Who is it that feels pleasure? Why, God.
"What is pleasure? Why the appreciation - instinctive or otherwise - of God.
"Who is the so-called "I''? I is God.
"God is pleasure. If I desire perpetual pleasure, I must forget myself, and be that which is pleasure itself, viz., God."


A Master sacrifices his whole self, let it down as an artificial idea into the Ocean of God Who Is, and Who is, literally, the Material and the Cause of everything, and becomes the embodiment of happiness. Similarly he flings every personal desire aside, even the desire for virtue. He denies it being his own action and attributes it to God, till he becomes the embodiment of that personal virtue he once desired, and no one can come near him without being blessed. He is the embodiment of all virtues. Such is true worship and its results.


Back to: Reminiscences of Bhagavan

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