Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) enlivened timeless paths from yore for our present day world. Even though he's left his physical incarnation, when I think on him I feel at once calm, uplifted, and more able to see grace and harmony in life. His presence remains with us always. Let's find out more about his life and teachings …
In this book, Arthur Osborne, as editor, has combined in one volume many of the essential teachings of this almost silent Spiritual Master. Part One includes Ramana Maharshi's Original Works: Self-Enquiry; Who am I?; Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala; Forty Verses and Supplement; Upadesa Saram (The Essence of Instruction), and Miscellaneous Verse.
Part Two - Adaptations and Translations - includes The Song Celestial; Translations from the Agamas; Poems from Shankaracharya; Vivekachudamani from Shankaracharya, and Drik Drisya Viveka from Shankaracharya.
We are also fortunate the editor has also included the useful Notes on Pronunciation, Glossary and Index. These ending chapters make understanding various points in the book much easier for the Western reader not familiar with Sanskrit or Eastern terms.
To begin, let's look into the first chapter titled 'Self-Enquiry', which was written about 1901 and is the Maharshi's first writing.
Of note is though he was only 22 years old at the time of writing, his words were mature and with full authority. The editor points out in the Preface that Ramana Maharshi's awakening experience never faded or left him; his life was forever changed.
This is not the usual progression for most of us who have our moments of enligtenment, and then eventually slide back into worldly ways and outlooks - sometimes taking an entire lifetime or many incarnations to be steeped in consciousness of Self, while simultaneously carrying out regular duties in the world.
Ramana Maharshi's words: "The Self is self-effulgent. One need give it no mental picture, anyway. The thought that imagines it is itself bondage, because the Self is the Effulgence transcending darkness and light; one should not think of it with the mind. Such imagination will end in bondage, whereas the Self spontaneously shines as the Absolute. This enquiry into the Self in devotional meditation evolves into the state of absorption of the mind into the Self and leads to Liberation and unqualified Bliss."
And on 'Atma-Vidya' - 'Self-Knowledge', here is a portion of verse Sri Ramana Maharshi wrote:
"3. The thought 'I am the body' is the string
On which are threaded divers thoughts like beads.
Therefore on diving deep upon the quest
'Who am I and from whence?' thoughts disappear
And consciousness of Self then flashes forth
As the 'I-I' within the cavity
Of every seeker's Heart. And this is Heaven,
This is that Stillness, the abode of Bliss."
Dear readers, this book has my highest recommendation for sincere spiritual seekers of Bliss, Joy, Realization!
Details - 192 page paperback by Weiser books, 1997; 8.3 by 5.4 inches; ISBN: 0877289077
Review by Susan Helene Kramer