The Teachings of Sri Ramana
Happiness is our essential being
- Happiness is our essential being
- The philosophy, science and art of true self-knowledge
- The practice of ātma-vicāra – ‘self-enquiry’ or self-scrutiny
- The contents of this website
Happiness lies deep within us, in the very core of our being. Happiness does not
exist in any external object, but only in us, who are the consciousness
that experiences happiness. Though we seem to derive happiness from
external objects or experiences, the happiness that we thus enjoy in
fact arises from within us.
Whatever turmoil our mind may be in, in the centre of our being there
always exists a state of perfect peace and joy, like the calm in the
eye of a storm. Desire and fear agitate our mind, and obscure from its
vision the happiness that always exists within it. When a desire is
satisfied, or the cause of a fear is removed, the surface agitation of
our mind subsides, and in that temporary calm our mind enjoys a taste
of its own innate happiness.
Happiness is thus a state of being – a state in which our
mind’s habitual agitation is calmed. The activity of our mind disturbs
it from its calm state of just being, and causes it to lose sight of
its own innermost happiness. To enjoy happiness, therefore, all our
mind need do is to cease all activity, returning calmly to its natural
state of inactive being, as it does daily in deep sleep.
True happiness is therefore the happiness of just being, which is the
perfect and absolute happiness that in mystical literature is known as
‘beatitude’. This true happiness of being is also described as "the
peace of God, which passeth all understanding", because it is
experienced in full only in the perfectly peaceful state of just being,
which is the state in which all mental activity has subsided in the
clarity of unobstructed self-consciousness. That is, since it can be
experienced perfectly only in the state in which we are conscious
merely of our own essential being and not of any thoughts or objects,
true happiness or peace is beyond all mental comprehension.
Not only does happiness exist within us – it is in fact our
true nature, our essential being. The transient happiness that we seem
to derive from external experiences, but which actually arises only
from within ourself, is in reality nothing other than our own essential
being. The more clearly we are conscious of our own essential being,
the more deeply and intensely do we experience happiness.
The degree of happiness that we experience at any moment is directly
proportionate to the degree of clarity with which we are then conscious
of our true and essential being. Therefore happiness is not only our
essential being, but is also our consciousness of our being. In fact,
since we are the consciousness that experiences our own being as ‘I
am’, we are both being and consciousness. In other words, our essential
being is consciousness, or more precisely it is self-consciousness
– consciousness that knows itself clearly as ‘I am’.
Therefore, since our unobstructed consciousness of our own being is
experienced by us as happiness, in our essential nature we are non-dual
being, consciousness and happiness.
The rising and subsequent activity of our mind distracts our attention
away from our essential being, thereby clouding our natural clarity of
self-consciousness and obscuring our awareness of the happiness that we
really are. Therefore so long as our mind is extroverted, attending to
anything other than our own essential being, we can never experience
perfect, permanent and unqualified happiness. To experience true and
eternal happiness, we must attain the experience of true
self-knowledge, that is, perfectly clear consciousness of our own
In order to experience such true self-knowledge, we must withdraw our
attention from everything other than ourself, and focus it wholly and
exclusively upon our own essential being, which we always experience in
the form of our fundamental consciousness – our primary
knowledge ‘I am’.
Until and unless we attend to our innermost self in this manner, we
cannot know who or what we really are, and unless we thereby experience
a clear and certain knowledge of what we really are, we cannot be
certain about the reality or validity of any knowledge that we may
appear to have about other things. All our knowledge about the world
and God – about science, religion, philosophy, physics,
cosmology, psychology, theology or any other branch of human knowledge
– is open to serious doubt so long as our knowledge about
ourself – the consciousness by which all those other things
are known – is confused and uncertain.
Therefore, if we wish to experience permanent and unqualified
happiness, or to attain knowledge about which we can be absolutely
certain, we must focus our whole attention keenly upon ourself, our
fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, ‘I am’, in order
to ascertain who or what we really are.
Such in brief is the simple but profound truth revealed by Bhagavan Sri Ramana.
The philosophy, science and art of true self-knowledge
The philosophy of Sri Ramana derives solely from his experience of
true, absolute and non-dual self-knowledge, an experience that
transcends all thought, both rational and irrational. However, since we
imagine the existence of duality, multiplicity and relativity, we seem
to lack the non-dual and absolute knowledge of our own essential
self-conscious being that Sri Ramana experienced as his natural state.
Therefore he presented his philosophy to us in terms of a rational and
logical analysis of our present experience of ourself as a finite
individual consciousness, in order to enable us to be firmly convinced
of the absolute reality that underlies this finite consciousness that
we now mistake to be ourself.
However, the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana are not only a rational
philosophy, but are also a precise science and art. He intended his
philosophy to serve only as the theoretical foundation upon which we
should practice the empirical science of self-investigation, which is
the art of abiding firmly and steadily in our natural state of keenly
self-attentive and therefore perfectly thought-free being.
The practice of ātma-vicāra – ‘self-enquiry’ or self-scrutiny
A Sanskrit term that was often used, both by Sri Ramana and by other more
ancient sages such as Sri Adi Sankara, to describe this empirical
practice of self-investigation or self-attentiveness is ātma-vicāra,
which is often loosely translated in English as ‘self-enquiry’ or
‘self-inquiry’. However, rather than ‘enquiry’, the word vicāra
can be more accurately translated as ‘investigation’, ‘examination’ or ‘scrutiny’.
Therefore the term ātma-vicāra really means
‘self-investigation’, ‘self-examination’ or ‘self-scrutiny’, and denotes the simple
practice of closely examining, inspecting or scrutinising our fundamental and
essential consciousness of our own being, ‘I am’, with a keen and
concentrated power of attention.
Sri Ramana also referred to this empirical practice of
self-investigation, self-examination, self-inspection, self-scrutiny,
self-attention or self-attentiveness as the vicāra ‘who am I?’ However, when he described it thus, he did not mean that it
is a process of questioning ourself ‘who am I?’ either verbally or
mentally. What he intended us to understand by this term is that this
practice is a keenly attentive examination or scrutiny of our basic
consciousness of our own being, which we always experience as ‘I am’,
in order to discover the true nature of this ‘I’, our essential being
The contents of this website
This website is dedicated to exploring in depth the philosophy, science
and art of true self-knowledge, particularly as taught by Bhagavan Sri
At present the principal contents of this website are:
I hope to continue gradually adding more content to this website, including translations of all the other original writings of Sri Ramana,
e-books versions of all the Tamil and English books of Sri Sadhu Om, and other writings about philosophy and practice of the simple
yet very profound teachings of Sri Ramana.
- An English translation by Michael James of நான் யார்? (Nan Yar?),
‘Who am I?’, the most important prose work of Sri Ramana, which explains in detail the philosophy and practice of ātma-vicāra or self-investigation
(along with a PDF copy of it and a section about the
Spanish translation of it).
- An PDF copy
of the word-for-word meaning and English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James of ஸ்ரீ அருணாசல ஸ்துதி பஞ்சகம்
(Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam), the
‘Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala’, which is a collection of the devotional songs composed by Sri Ramana
(along with a link to the
Spanish translation of it).
- An PDF copy
of the word-for-word meaning and English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and Michael James of ஸ்ரீ ரமணோபதேச நூன்மாலை
(Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai), the
‘Garland of Sri Ramana’s Texts of Spiritual Teachings (upadesa)’, which is a collection of the principal philosophical poems composed by Sri Ramana
(along with a link to a PDF copy of the separate translation of
Upadesa Undiyar, and also a
link to the Spanish translation of
Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai, which includes Upadesa Undiyar).
- An PDF copy of the English translation by Sri Sadhu Om and
Michael James of குரு வாசகக் கோவை (Guru Vachaka Kovai),
the ‘Series of Guru’s Sayings’, which is the most comprehensive and reliable collection of the sayings of Sri Ramana, recorded in 1255 Tamil verses
composed by Sri Muruganar, with an additional 42 verses composed by Sri Ramana (along with a
link to the
Spanish translation of it).
- An PDF copy
of சாதனை சாரம் (Sadhanai Saram), the
‘Essence of Spiritual Practice’, an English translation of a collection of Tamil verses composed by Sri Sadhu Om, in which he gives
many valuable clues to help and guide us in the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender.
- An PDF copy
of Part One of
The Path of Sri Ramana,
which is an English translation of ஸ்ரீ ரமண வழி (Sri Ramana Vazhi), a Tamil book written by Sri Sadhu Om, in which
he explains in great depth and detail the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana, with emphasis in this
first part on the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).
- An PDF copy
of Part Two of
The Path of Sri Ramana, in which
Sri Sadhu Om explains the teachings of Sri Ramana on various related subjects such as the reality of the world and God, the path of
bhakti or devotion, and the true nature of karma or action.
- An PDF copy of
Happiness and the Art of Being,
which is an in-depth introduction by Michael James to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana (along with
French translations of it).
- An organised list of links to articles contained in the blog
Happiness of Being – Teachings of Sri Ramana, which is
a growing archive of articles on the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramana.