The Bliss of the Self - Unveiling the Light Within

The Bliss of the Self - Unveiling the Light Within

In the eleventh verse of 'Forty Verses on Reality' (Sri Ulladu Narpadu), Ramana Maharishi eloquently defines ignorance as perceiving all objects through the senses and the mind. According to him, true knowledge arises when the Self, the underlying essence of both knowing and not knowing, is realized. This profound realization leads to the cessation of both knowledge and ignorance.

The perceiver's mind, engrossed in objects perceived through the senses, molds itself into the forms of these objects. The intellect then collects and stores these impressions, preserving them as memories even when the objects are absent. These subtle, shadowy impressions act as a dark veil, concealing the inner light of the Self. Ramana Maharishi labels this layer of inherent tendencies, or vasanas, as ignorance.

The 'I' Consciousness and Self-Awareness

Only through self-awareness can this veiling be dismantled. The 'I'-consciousness, inherently self-luminous, is the key. Everything, from the egoic 'I' to the entire visible world, is illuminated by the light of consciousness (chit). Through self-inquiry and the subsiding of senses, mind, and the 'I'-thought, pure consciousness emerges as 'I-I' (aham-aham). This consciousness, the substratum, transcends both knowing and not knowing.

From the pure intelligence of the Self arises an inscrutable power, 'I,' which, when in contact with ignorance, transforms into the mind. The mind, in turn, manifests the elements—space, air, fire, water, and earth. Yet, when this power deviates from consciousness, assuming object forms, it becomes the mind, creating an illusion of objects other than the Self, known as vikalpa.

Transformation through Self-Realization

When the mind turns towards the Self, it becomes chit-sakti. Through non-motivated actions and devotion, the ātma-sakti (power of the Self) within the mind gets refined. With an intimation of the immeasurable 'I' within the heart, a profound fascination arises. The purified mind, upon hearing the Guru's words, transforms into chitsakti and merges with its source, becoming introverted or facing the Self—pratyangmukha manas.

As the mind transcends both knowledge and ignorance, it enters the indivisible, revealing the immeasurable. The Upanishads term this revelation as the imperishable aksara, and the Mundaka Upanishad defines paravidya as the knowledge by which the imperishable is known.

The Imperishable 'Ekam Aksharam'

A devotee once requested Ramana Maharishi to bless a notebook with just one letter. The Maharishi wrote a verse: "ēkam aksaram hrdi nirantaram bhāsate swayam," meaning 'That imperishable, self-luminous One shines in the heart continually. How can one write it?' This underscores that true knowledge lies within, beyond external learning.

Ramana Maharishi asserts that our learning about the external world is, in fact, 'ignorance.' Ignorance, or 'ajnana,' is defined as knowing the other without understanding one's own Self. It's akin to mistaking a rope for a snake, a misapprehension born in the dim light of faint knowledge.

Seizing the Present Moment through Self-Enquiry

The experience of the Self as 'I' is eternal but requires sustained attention. Deep sleep brings happiness from the heart, while ignorance, the notion of 'not knowing anything,' stems from the intellect. Self-enquiry becomes the magnificent eye for seeing the truth, a tool for realizing that the Self is ever-attained. By embracing self-awareness and vichara (inquiry), one can uncover the timeless treasure within.

By Nochur Sri Venkataram

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