The Power of Ramana
The teaching of Ramana Maharshi is simple. It is powerful. It is direct. It is fast. This power is so powerful we often overlook the nature of this power. Rarely, if ever, do we stop and ask ourselves what is it about Ramana that makes him so powerful? Let’s face it. Ramana is dead. His face is no more. Whatever is left of his now badly decomposed body is enshrined in a samadhi tomb at his ashram in Tiruvannamalai India. Some of you reading this have never even heard of him and possibly don’t even know what an ashram is. So what is it about this man known as Ramana Maharshi that is so powerful? Who is Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi?
How can a man who is dead have any power to do anything? The answer is so simple it is easy to overlook. Ramana is not Ramana the way we tend to think of Ramana. He is not a man. He is not a teaching. He is not the plethora of books left behind that stand as a testimony to the power of his presence. He is not anything that you might think. Some say he is God. Others say he is Siva. Still others say he is omniscience. The more astute might say he is nothing at all. But none of these descriptions accurately describe Ramana or his power.
Ramana is synonymous with enlightenment, but not in the way we normally think of the slow process of attainment or the mastery known as enlightenment—Ramana is instant enlightenment. He is enlightenment now—a sudden dramatic shift in your consciousness. His life and teaching represents the dramatic end of suffering. Naturally, you can instantly love this wondrous news; your suffering can end in a finger snap. You can jump off the karmic wheel ending eons of suffering in a single instant. More importantly, you don’t have to do anything for this instant relief. His timeless gift is enlightenment is possible for anyone right now in this moment. It is simply always here and now.
Instant enlightenment translates in the human psyche, or more accurately the western psyche, into the idea you do not have to do anything to be enlightened—you simply have to realize you are already enlightened then voilà you are enlightened. This totally irrational idea is based in the pure ignorance of what enlightenment actually means, but this fundamental aspect of his teaching is generally accepted as totally rational simply because human beings by their very nature are totally irrational emotional animals. The average person irrationally bases decisions on feelings and later justifies the decision based on their thoughts—even if what their thoughts are totally erroneous or a complete and total lie.
Instant enlightenment actually makes no sense—in fact there is no proof it is even true—but this actually does not matter. Instant enlightenment is good news. It makes you happy. This is the secret power of Ramana Maharshi; instant enlightenment is completely and totally irrational, but, even though it totally flies in the face of common sense, it makes you feel tremendously happy. Salvation is possible for even the worst of the worst of us is Ramana great teaching. But how can anyone be enlightened instantly? Don’t all the ancient scriptures say you must practice, practice, practice in order to become enlightened?
What is really going on here? Is Ramana right? Or is he just a total quack?! The reason we love the idea of instant enlightenment is simply this—it feels good. It does not matter if it is true or not. It doesn’t even matter if it is instant or if you have to work hard to earn enlightenment. The idea it is here and now is all that ultimately matters. The idea your suffering can end instantly is the wonderment of wonderments—the great good news of nirvāṇa—perpetual happiness or causeless joy. This idea of instant enlightenment simply makes us feel good—period. This is the unseen power of Ramana Maharshi.
His simple teaching represents a dramatic shift in your perception. It turns your attention to the source of your attention. Naturally, this feels amazingly good—it is the total absence of thought and that always feels good. The power of Ramana is simple happiness—a return to your natural state. The trouble with this simplicity is it does nothing to free you from the powerful movements of your mind or the deep identification with your body or ego. You can have a taste of instant enlightenment and continue to suffer for one simple reason—you still think you are you.
Of course, can fool yourself into thinking you are enlightened, while your ego beams with its newfound specialness. You simply justify this irrational idea with your thoughts in order to create a hallucination that destroys this obvious cognitive dissonance. You are simply already free is the lie you tell yourself that serves to hide the truth that your actions do not match your belief that you are enlightened. In other words, you are still suffering and know you are suffering, but justify this inconsistency in your own mind by reaffirming to yourself that you are already enlightened. In other words, you simply hallucinate your enlightenment and fool yourself into believing this lie. This is the arrogance of the western mind.
As long as you exist as the deep feeling of you, or you think that you are enlightened, you are not even close to the eternal freedom known as enlightenment. This is simply a trick of your mind and ego. The idea of you, or ego, is the root power of your mind. It is not a little power. It is the power of life itself infused with the strong sensation that you exist. A power so explosive it has the innate power of a thousand suns encapsulated by the very strong sense and feeling that you are the doer. This deep feeling must be snuffed out completely or you will continue to suffer—even when you think you are enlightened.
It is deeply true that Ramana is like a light switch—the ultimate guru—he snuffs out your ego with three simple words; who are you? This question ultimately ends the idea of you. If there is no you, no mind, and no story of you, then only happiness remains. How could it be otherwise? But don’t let this simple truth fool you. This simplicity does not equate to effortless or the totally ignorant idea you don’t have to do anything to become enlightened. It is sad this is how his teaching is often heard and understood in the west.
This deep delusion often blossoms into the enlightened ego or the idea that you are enlightenment itself. Is it even possible to be enlightened by simply clicking your fingers? Hell no! This is also a lie of the lazy arrogant western mind and ego. Just knowing about enlightenment does not make you enlightened. The knower and the known are the same thing—the observer and the object observed are the great illusion of saṃsāra—the unending dream of life. The truth is it doesn’t matter who you are or how ripe your soul might be—you must earn your freedom. It is simply the arrogance of ego to think otherwise.
You must see for yourself that this you that you think you are is a complete and total illusion. It is this simple. But it is not easy. It requires fierce determination, resolve, and vigilance to see through this you—the very persistent illusion constantly reaffirmed by the feeling nature of your body.
The practice of Ramana is ruthless. You must be fiercely here and now—not accepting anything in your mind as real. He stated the necessary practice very succinctly; a continuous inquiry that returns your attention to the source of you until you do not exist to practice or do anything.
To realize your own enlightenment you simply cannot exist—this is the reality of Ramana’s teaching. It is happiness without the person who experiences happiness—total happiness.
As strange as this sounds to the western mind it also feels amazingly good. This is the nature of lasting happiness—nothing at all—causeless joy.
This causeless joy is the power of Ramana; absolute zero—zippo, zilcho, nothing.
This is the purest happiness.
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