I ARRIVED AT A POINT when I was twenty-one where I felt very strongly that all teachers — Buddha, Jesus, Sri Ramakrishna, everybody — kidded themselves, deluded themselves and deluded everybody. This, you see, could not be the thing at all — “Where is the state that these people talk about and describe? That description seems to have no relation to me, to the way I am functioning. Everybody says ‘Don’t get angry’ — I am angry all the time. I’m full of brutal activities inside, so that is false. What these people are telling me I should be is something false, and because it is false it will falsify me. I don’t want to live the life of a false person. I am greedy, and non-greed is what they are talking about. There is something wrong somewhere. This greed is something real, something natural to me; what they are talking about is unnatural. So, something is wrong somewhere. But I am not ready to change myself, to falsify myself, for the sake of being in a state of non-greed; my greed is a reality to me.” I lived in the midst of people who talked of these things everlastingly — everybody was false, I can tell you. So, somehow, what you call ‘existentialist nausea’ (I didn’t use those words at the time, but now I happen to know these terms, revulsion against everything sacred and everything holy, crept into my system and threw everything out: “No more slokas, no more religion, no more practices — there isn’t anything there; but what is here is something natural. I am a brute, I am a monster, I am full of violence — this is reality. I am full of desire. Desirelessness, non-greed, non-anger — those things have no meaning to me; they are false, and they are not only false, they are falsifying me.” So I said to myself “I’m finished with the whole business," but it is not that simple, you see.
Then somebody came along, and we were discussing all these things. He found me practically an atheist (but not a practicing atheist), skeptical of everything, heretical down to my boots. He said “There is one man here, somewhere in Madras at Tiruvannamalai, called Ramana Maharshi. Come on, let’s go and see that man. Here is a living human embodiment of the Hindu tradition.”
I didn’t want to see any holy man. If you have seen one, you have seen them all. I never shopped around, went around searching for people, sitting at the feet of the masters, learning something; because everybody tells you “Do more and more of the same thing, and you will get it.” What I got were more and more experiences, and then those experiences demanded permanence — and there is no such thing as permanence. So, “The holy men are all phonies — they are telling me only what is there in the books. That I can read — ‘Do the same again and again’ — that I don’t want. Experiences I don’t want. They are trying to share an experience with me. I’m not interested in experience. As far as experience goes, for me there is no difference between the religious experience and the sex experience or any other experience; the religious experience is like any other experience. I am not interested in experiencing Brahman; I am not interested in experiencing reality; I am not interested in experiencing truth. They might help others; but they cannot help me. I’m not interested in doing more of the same; what I have done is enough. At school if you want to solve a mathematical problem, you repeat it again and again — you solve the mathematical problem, and you discover that the answer is in the problem. So, what the hell are you doing, trying to solve the problem? It is easier to find the answer first instead of going through all this.”
So, reluctantly, hesitatingly, unwilling, I went to see Ramana Maharshi. That fellow dragged me. He said “Go there once. Something will happen to you.” He talked about it and gave me a book, A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton, so I read the chapter relating to this man — “All right, I don’t mind, let me go and see.” That man was sitting there. From his very presence I felt “What! This man — how can he help me? This fellow who is reading comic strips, cutting vegetables, playing with this, that or the other — how can this man help me? He can’t help me.” Anyway, I sat there. Nothing happened; I looked at him, and he looked at me. “In his presence you feel silent, your questions disappear, his look changes you” — all that remained a story, fancy stuff to me. I sat there. There were a lot of questions inside, silly questions — so, “The questions have not disappeared. I have been sitting here for two hours, and the questions are still there. All right, let me ask him some questions” — because at that time I very much wanted moksha. This part of my background, moksha, I wanted. “You are supposed to be a liberated man” — I didn’t say that. “Can you give me what you have?” — I asked him this question, but that man didn’t answer, so after some lapse of time I repeated that question — “I am asking ‘Whatever you have, can you give it to me?’” He said, “I can give you, but can you take it?” Boy! For the first time this fellow says that he has something and that I can’t take it. Nobody before had said “I can give you,” but this man said “I can give you, but can you take it?” Then I said to myself “If there is any individual in this world who can take it, it is me, because I have done so much sadhana, seven years of sadhana. He can think that I can’t take it, but I can take it. If I can’t take it, who can take it?” — that was my frame of mind at the time — you know, (laughs) I was so confident of myself.
I didn’t stay with him, I didn’t read any of his books, so I asked him a few more questions: “Can one be free sometimes and not free sometimes?" He said “Either you are free, or you are not free at all.” There was another question which I don’t remember. He answered in a very strange way: “There are no steps leading you to that.” But I ignored all these things. These questions didn’t matter to me — the answers didn’t interest me at all.
But this question “Can you take it?” … “How arrogant he is!” — that was my feeling. “Why can’t I take it, whatever it is? What is it that he has?” — that was my question, a natural question. So, the question formulated itself: “What is that state that all those people — Buddha, Jesus and the whole gang — were in? Ramana is in that state — supposed to be, I don’t know — but that chap is like me, a human being. How is he different from me? What others say or what he is saying is of no importance to me; anybody can do what he is doing. What is there? He can’t be very much different from me. He was also born from parents. He has his own particular ideas about the whole business. Some people say something happened to him, but how is he different from me? What is there: What is that state?” — that was my fundamental question, the basic question — that went on and on and on. “I must find out what that state is. Nobody can give that state; I am on my own. I have to go on this uncharted sea without a compass, without a boat, with not even a raft to take me. I am going to find out for myself what the state is in which that man is.” I wanted that very much, otherwise I wouldn’t have given my life.
U.G. Krishnamurti (1918‒2007) was a writer who questioned the value of enlightenment.
Edited by David Godman
In our opinion this superb collection of extracts from Ramana Maharshi’s writings and dialogues is the best single-volume introduction to his teachings. This is the book we recommend to people who want to read about Sri Ramana for the first time. The editor, David Godman, is probably the foremost living expert on Sri Ramana’s teachings. David has gone through dozens of books by and about Sri Ramana and collected passages which most clearly state various points of his teaching. These extracts are organized thematically into chapters with higher teachings first and less important ones last. David has also provided informative introductions to each chapter and to the book as a whole as well as a glossary and notes.
This page was published on January 29, 2000 and last revised on May 23, 2017.