40 Verses – by Ramana Maharshi

photo of Ramana Maharshi at young age

The Sage of Arunachala
1879 Tiruchuzli – Tiruvannamalai 1950
Forty Verses, written by Ramana Maharshi;
one of only two writings given by Ramana Maharshi
– who principally taught by silence.
passim rendering of text by Bon Giovanni.

this is that

Can there be the feeling of “I” without that which exists, always?
For one to sense oneself requires a background that is distinct from a
sense of self. And what is that background? The world of the Other is
the background, in which the sense of self is foreground.

Flee from thoughts- there exists an inner being, the Heart, which is not the
idea of you nor the background you appear against.

How then to know that which is beyond the mind?

To know it is to abide,
firmly, in the Heart.

The “I” thought is the first to die for those who take refuge in
wisdom. Thereafter they are naturally fearless. Without the ego, who
is it that can ever again be assailed by the fear of death?

Because we see the variegated world, and are enchanted, a single source with
unlimited powers is the last to be identified. But the sage intuits
that the
seer, the seen, the screen on which all is projected, the light, and
oneself are all found to be only He, the One, the Heart of the matter.

All religions begin with the existence of God, the world and the individual.
So long as the ego persists, this trinity appears to be separate and
identities. As we mature, we come to think of them as three-in-one. But
thinking is not knowing.

To abide, egoless, in Reality, is best.

Of what use are disputes such as ‘the world *is* real’,
‘*no*, it is a mirage’,
‘it is conscious energy’,
‘no, it is matter’,
‘it is Satan’s’,
‘no, it is Bhagavan’s’.

Of what use are disputes such as that?

surrounds the argumentative nature
with Silence.

Abidance in the exalted state where neither the ego nor the world exists,
is available to all.

So long as one thinks one has a form, the world and God too have forms.
When one is the formless, who is there to see? Reality is itself the
Eye, complete, limitless.

The bodyform is made up of five sheaths. The body and the world co-exist.
(Without a body, can anybody see the world?)

The world has the form of the five-fold senses, like sound and taste and
smell. These senses are known through the five sense organs, like ear and
tongue and nose. The mind alone perceives the world through these sense
organs. Therefore the world “is” but the mind.

Even though the dual awareness of mind and world arises as one perception,
it is the mind that lights the world, and not the other way around.

The source from which the world and the mind rise and into which they set
is termed Reality, which does not rise nor does it subside.

Worship of the Reality as the Supreme, or as Self, or as God, in any name
and in any form, or Named as “Formless”, is an aid in envisioning It.
True insight, however, is merging and abiding in Reality.

When an individual, for whom duality and trinity hold sway, traces his
sense of identity to the source, the delusion of separation evaporates
like dew at noon. Then all mental agitation ceases.

Can there be knowledge, without ignorance? Can there be ignorance, without
knowledge to recognize it? Searching the source of the individual under
that double-edged curse, and then abiding in that source, is wisdom.

Can knowledge of all books, of all sciences, of all languages, of
_everything_- without knowing Reality be wisdom? Awareness of Reality,

is the support of the knower and the known, destroys the pair
“knowledge” and
“ignorance”. Duality slips away as the dreamer awakens.

Neither sleep, nor the cognition of objects that men call wakefulness, is
true knowledge. In the true state of awareness, which is different from
sleep and wakefulness, there is no awareness of objects, but
consciousness alone shines. That brilliance is not empty.

Just as gold is shaped to form a beautiful ring, so consciousness shapes
itself into all this variegated world. Reality is consciousness itself.
The many forms cannot exist apart from it. Can the ring exist without

Without the “I”, there is no “you” nor “he”, nor “she”, nor “it”. When
the “I” enquires into its source, the “I” itself subsides, and the second
and third person also disappear. Reality, our own natural state, shines

Now, looked back on, is the past. Now, looked forward to, is the future.
In their time, both past and future are only the present. Isn’t it just a
matter of laughter then to debate about past and future, unaware of the
present? Can one count without the number 1? So let us be intelligent
start at the beginning, now.

Begin with what is closest now, the sense of “I”. Can there be space or
time without this sense of “I”? Space and time bind me only if I am the

I AM nowhere. I AM timeless. I AM everywhere, always. Abidance in this
exalted state is available to all.

Both the intelligent and the ignorant regard the body as “I”. The
claim a spiritual body while the ignorant claim a meat body. For the
wise, identity shines in the Heart, limitless, including the body and the

To the ignorant and for the wise, the world exists. The ignorant regard
the world alone as real. For the wise, the formless source of the seen is
real and complete.

The controversy whether fate is stronger than free-will, or vice-versa, is
only for those who do not know their source. Those who know the
individual for whom they pertain, remain untouched by them.

To see God as apart from Self is only a mental image. To abide,
in Reality, is true vision of God.

The scriptures declare no man has seen the face of God. It is not easy to
understand that idea. Of all faces in this world, which is the one you
cannot see directly? Because Reality is One, it cannot be seen. How
one see God? It is only by becoming food to Him.

It is not easy to understand these ideas.

God illumines the mind and shines within it, unseen. How then can one know
God through the mind? Turning the mind inward and fixing it on Him alone
is to have His vision.

The body does not say “I”. No one says, “I do not exist while asleep.”
When that sense of “I” arises, all rises. So with your sharpest
intellect, find out the origin of this “I”.

The body is insentient. Not one produces the “I”. Yet within the body’s limit
an “I” arises that is not body, and not Reality. Call it “ego”, “knot of
matter and spirit”, “bondage”, “sin”, “subtle body”,- call it “mind”.

Born of forms, rooted in forms, feeding on forms, ever changing its forms,
yet itself formless, this ego-ghost takes to the hills upon steadfast

On the rising of the ego everything rises. With its subsidence all
subsides. The ego seems to be the all. Tracking it is the way to victory
over everything.

The “I” does not rise in the real state. Searching for the source of “I”
dissolves it.

This is the clear way to attain the supreme state of Reality.

Discover the real source of the ego by exploring within, with keen
intellect, by regulating the breath, speech and mind- As one would do in
recovering a valuable object which has fallen into a deep well. With full
attention, and utmost care, examine within.

To enquire, silently and deeply, as to the source of the mind, the “I”,
this alone is self-enquiry. Ideas like “I am that”, or “I am not this”,
are but aids.

The ego falls crestfallen when one enquires “Who am I?”, and enters the
Heart. Then another “I”- “I” “I” throbs unceasingly, by itself. It is
not the ego, but Reality itself, the whole.

Who can understand the state of one who has dissolved his ego, and is
abiding, always in the Heart? For him, only Reality alone is. What
remains for such a one to “do”? What is necessary happens through him,
but he does nothing.

Now it is known. You are that. “I am that I am” is the truth. But if you
do not enquire and reach the Reality, always shining, and abiding as
That- then, to discuss again, endlessly, is only due to the weakness of
the mind.

Statements like “I do not know who I am”, or “I know myself” are matters
for laughter. Are there two selves, the seer and the seen? The

of all is that the Reality is One.

Instead of firmly abiding in the Heart in one’s own true state, to
“real or unreal, form or formless, many or one” is to be blinded by

Self-abidance alone is a miracle. The other miracles are like dreams
last until waking. Can those firmly rooted in reality lapse into

So long as we have this idea that the body is what I-dentity is, then the
thought that one is progressing is helpful. But when one is That, such
thoughts are as futile as a man repeating over and over “I am a man”, “I
am a man,” “I am a man”. The mind is a habit.

The theories such as duality in spiritual discipline and non-dualism upon
Realization are not true. Everything is at it was, nothing new has been
created; what is new is that everything is known as it is, without
prejudice, and that makes all the difference. You know the story of the
ten foolish travelers? They feared that one of them was lost, because
whenever one of them counted the group, the count came to nine. So it
on Realization. The tenth man was present not merely when he was found,
but also during the search, with loving concern.

If one feels one is the doer, one must reap the consequences of his
action. If one enquires “who is the doer?”, and enters the Heart, the
doership idea will end. No effect ensues where there is no vehicle to
affect. This indeed is liberation.

Thoughts of enlightenment last as long as one is unenlightened. Thoughts
of liberation are only so long as one thinks one is bound. One attains
the eternally liberated “I” by the enquiry “for whom is the bondage?”
Thereafter, how can the thought of bondage and freedom arise?

Some scholarly folk who have studied many books say that after liberation,
form remains. Other scholars say that forms do not last. Yet others nod
heads and say, sometimes form remains, and sometimes, it is lost. The
loss of the ego, which examines these three concepts, alone is true

Pranams to the sage of Arunachala, whose ideas speak through these

(page courtesy of Bon Giovanni)