Even if one occasionally is able to turn their mind away from the world and concentrate it back on the Self, it almost immediately loses its concentration and wanders back to he world. Why does this happen? Ramana said it is because one believes that the world is real. “But for the belief that the world is real, it would be quite easy for you to obtain the revelation of the Self.” The greatest wonder, Ramana declared, is that, being always the Self, one is striving to become the Self.
Ramana Maharshi: The Crown Jewel of Advaita
Ramana Maharsi was probably the most famous sage of the twentieth century both in India and the rest of the world.
Ramana Maharshi was a sage and jivanmukta (one who, in the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, has gained and assimilated self-knowledge, thus is liberated with an inner sense of freedom while living). He was born Venkataraman Iyer, in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, South India, and given the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in 1907, by one of his first devotees — the name struck and remains that by which he is widely known.
In 1896, at the age of 16, he became aware that “his real nature was formless, immanent consciousness,” resulting in a state which he later described as enlightenment. Six weeks later he left his family home in Madurai, and journeyed to the holy mountain Arunachala, in Tiruvannamalai, South India, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Although his first years in Tiruvannamalai were spent in solitude, he soon attracted devotees, and in later years a community grew up around him. Although worshipped by thousands, he never received private gifts, and treated all with equal respect. Since the 1930s his teachings have been popularized in the west.
Throughout the years, Ramana Maharshi responded to many questions on spiritual matters, but always insisted that silence was the purest teaching. In response to questions on self-liberation and the classic texts on Yoga and Vedanta, Ramana recommended self-enquiry as the principal way to awaken to “I-I”, thereby realizing the Self and attaining liberation. He also recommended Bhakti, as well as giving his approval to a variety of paths and practices.