A Dialogue with Sri Ramana Maharshi
M:Maharshi and D: Devotee
Reference: Gems from Mountain Path - January 1983 By B. V. Narasimha Swami
D: Who am I?
M: What is your first impression on that matter?
D: I am the person now sitting here talking and listening.
M: It is the body that sits here with a voice organ and a sense of hearing. Are you the body then?
D: Am I not?
M: What does your body consists of but hands, legs, eyes, nose, and so on. Are you your hands? Can you
not exist without hands?
D: I can exist without my hands, so I am not my hands.
M: For the same reason, you are not the legs, nose, eyes and so on.
D: Just so.
M: If you are not the parts, you are not even the whole body.
D: How does that follow?
M: What belongs to you and is your property is not yourself. Is that not so?
D: It appears so.
M: "My body" you spoke of. Then the body is your property, is it not?
D: It seems so, though I cannot see who the 'I' is who owns the body.
M: Then the owner, yourself, must be invisible. Are there no invisible entities in existence?
D: Yes, there are, such as ghosts, spirits and so on.
M: Then you may be spirit, may you not?
D: How can a living man be a spirit?
M: When can he be a spirit?
D: After his death?
M: Where was that spirit during life?
D: It must have been connected with residing in the living body.
M: What is the distinction in nature between the spirit and the body, living or dead?
D: I suppose the fact that the sprit is subtle while the body is gross and material, and that the spirit acts
upon the body.
M: Then the neither the body, nor the senses, nor the pranas (the breath and other vital functions)
constitute spirit, which is yourself, your 'I'.
D: No, they are not 'I'.
M: When you think or talk of 'I', what else do you feel is a part of you or your spirit?
D: People say that we have both a body and mind. If I am not the body, it follows that I am the mind.
M: What is that mind? What constitute the mind?
D: I cannot say.
M: When you refer to your mind, what idea do you have at the back of your mind? The mind is not a trunk
with limbs head and voice, is it?
M: You have something more subtle than the gross body which you express with your voice.
Why do you talk now?
D: To express the thoughts and ideas which are in my mind.
M: Then thoughts and ideas are the contents of the mind, and together constitute the mind.
M: Are thoughts and ideas all of the same sort, or are they the basis of each other?
D: I do not understand.
M: When you see a person, what thoughts have you?
D: I think I see a figure with some qualities such as brightness or shortness?
M: How do you know that it is brightness or shortness?
D: I have known them previously.
M: So you have the primary sensations, and then you compare with a previous stock of such impressions.
Is not this power of memory, comparison and judgement of similarity or dissimilarity, a power higher
than mere receptivity to impressions?
M: It is the secondary function that is called the intellect or buddhi, Which of these two: (1) sensations or
thoughts, and (2) intellect, is superior?
D: It is the intellect that guids, arranges and controls the thoughts. So the intellect (buddhi) is superior to
the thougts (manas).
M: So the intellect (buddhi ) may be regarded as an inner sheath, a sort of core, for this mind (manas).
Can you discover any further inner core to which thisbuddhi is an outer sheath?
D: My mind cannot penetrate into such mysterious region.
M: Why, even now you have penetrated, since you said "my mind"! You include your thoughts and your
intellect in the term "my mind", do you not?
M: Do you have no powers besides the intetellect? Why do you not see if you have?
D: Where or what am I to see?
M: See within yourself, see yourself.
D: How can I see what is not visible?
M: You cannot see with these physical eyes.
D: What other eyes do I have?
M: You have your 'I', See with it and enquire 'Who am I?'
D: How can I see my 'I'?
M: When you talk of 'I', are you not conscious of something?
M: That consciousness is not a consciousness of objects, so it must be a consciousness of something
else, must it not?
D: How does that follow?
M: When you think of an object, you are absorbed and transformed into that object. At that time you are not
thinking of 'I' but of the object, are you not?
D: Just so.
M: Now if you drop the object, what remains?
D: Nothing remains.
M: But when you preceived the object, there was both the object perceived (the drisya) and yourself, the
perceiver (the drik).
M: If of these two you remove the first mentioned, namely the drisya or object, what should remain?
M: When you say "my intellect" , what is the relationship between you and the intellect? Is it not that of an
owner and his property?
D: It may be so, but the matter is not clear to my intellect.
M: Is the intellect the same thing to you at all times, or to you and to all others?
D: No, my own intellect varies at times, and it differs from that of others, especially when I do not agree with
M: Do all men have the same degree or quality of intellect, whatever their age, education, health and so on?
D: No. babies have little of it. Older and educated people have more of it. Sick people have little of it.
Geniuses have much of it. Fools, drunkards and insane people have little or none of it.
M: In insane people, where is the intellect?
D: It is clouded or destroyed.
M: Do they never recover it?
D: Some do.
M: Just as you recover stolen property. So the intellect is your property, capable of improvement, subject to
variation, liable to destruction, and capable of being again restored to you, the possessor. Is it not so?
M: Then the intellect or buddhi is only your property; it is not you.
D: Just so.
M: Then what are you?
D: I cannot find out what I am.
M: You mean your intellect does not show you who you are.
D: Yes, that is what I meant.
D: Logically or mathematically speaking, the drik or subject 'I' should remain. But in point of fact I do not
find it remaining. When I stop thinking of objects, all thoughts ceases. The 'I' does not remain alone.
M: You are partly right. The intellectual and relative concept of 'I' as subject does not exist apart from the
similar concept, the object. The subject and object appear together and disappear together. The first
person, second person and third person all jump into and jump out of consciousness together. But is
there no consciousness apart from these intellectual concepts?
D: I see none.
M: Did you have your intellect in deep sleep? That is, were you then perceiving, comparing and contrasting,
remembering and judging things or objects?
D: No, there were no objects to think of and no intellectual play at that time.
M: Yet as you already admitted, you felt happy, did you not?
M: What is the general feeling, this happiness unrelated to any object or thought, this feeling or
consciousness in which the intellect has no part? You have already found that the nature of 'I', the Self,
is to be happy, and here you find happiness when you transcend the intellect. Can you therefore
conclude that 'I', 'Self' and 'happiness' are one and the same thing, felt as one, though not intellectually
perceived as one.
D: I am convinced that it must be so, but I do not yet feel it clearly. I do not feel this unrelated or absolute
happiness transcending the intellect.
M: That is because of the fact that it has long been your habit to think of and identify yourself with other
objects and that you have never faced your 'I' in the above manner. You have always been exercising
your intellect and never your intuition. If you reverse your course and take to inward vision, shutting
out all external images and falling back on intuitive feeling, in that dark chamber of your mind you will
catch the true picture of yourself. This is the real, the realization, the realizer or the Self - the One which
words cannot describe and the mind cannot reach, and which is merely suggested by the term often
used for describing it, namely sat-chit-anand, that is, existence or reality, consciousness or illumination,
Who am I?