This book is a classic for a reason. It is concise, well organised, full of gems and to the point.
Maharshi was not only enlightened/self-realised, but also had a great deal of understanding of traditional Vedanta. He therefore does a wonderful job of clearing up issues you will find hardly discussed at all by other teachers. Maharshi not only discusses the core teachings of self-inquiry and surrender, but also addresses wide ranging questions ranging from reincarnation to the nature of reality, from how to deal with sexual desire to his views on free will and psychic powers.
David Godman does a great job of introducing the seemingly contradictory teachings and enabling the reader to see the unifying message that runs through them. He has meticulously selected passages from a variety of sources which potentially saves the reader from reading larger tomes but still give the reader more than enough to understand the heart of the teachings.
This is the best book I have read on the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. It is probably so good because author David Godman was for 8 years, 1978 - 1985, a librarian at Ramana Maharshi's ashram. Ramana Maharshi died in 1950. In 1987 David Godman held many interviews with Annamalai Swami, a devoted follower of Ramana Maharshi who had worked at Sri Ramanasramam between 1928 and 1938. The ashram is still flourishing, at the foot of the holy mountain of Arunachala.
Through the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, it is possible to transcend ego, to go beyond mind created concepts of who we think we are and to just be who we really are.
“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” Ramana Maharshi.
I don't know how I have not come across Sri Maharshi's teachings before but am glad that I have done so, as he has coherently put into words what has been floating around in my head since a young boy. To me Maharshi is a modern day Buddha or not so much a Buddha as he states that he belongs to no religious school of thought but to me he achieved what Shakyamuni Buddha did under the Bodhi tree in 535 BCE(enlightenment) or as Maharshi states 'self-realisation. People have mentioned that this book uses Hindu or ancient Indian words or phrases but all are explained in the glossary at the back and it doesn't distract from the reading, takes a bit of getting used to admitedly but ensures a long English explanation isn't used everytime that would break up the flow of the book. After reading this book several times now I have purchased several others over time and have given them to friends who have all mentioned how they would like to read it, this book is so important (to me) I'd like to keep my own copy to refer back to and hence am not lending this one out and I'm so certain that others would like to keep this themselves, it's easier just to buy my friends a copy. Lets say the first quarter of the book is the hardest part as this is the basis of the book, you must have a basic grasp of the concept of the 'I' 'true self' and 'ego' before proceeding. This isn't a book you can just dip into willy nilly, it must be read methodically and digested to some degree before proceeding. If you get past the first quarter and into the second quarter this is when it really opens your eyes and continues in this vain for the remainder of the book. This encapsulates so many religions without all the dogma and shows the true law of the universe of which we are part, as Sri maharshi states 'Just as the sun cannot be seen in a densely clouded sky, so one's own Self cannot be seen in a mind-sky which is darkened by a dense cloud of thoughts.' If you looking for the way of enlightenment (self-realisation) or just answers, I guarantee this book is a must have, be warned though, his teachings are explained well in the book but to carry out the practice, well that's a totally different matter all together. Ok the bottom line, out of my top five books I've ever read in my (42 years of) life? Definitely in the top 5. Buy it, stick with it and if possible, live it.
I suspect since humankind first developed an awareness of a spiritual dimension to existence Self Enquiry in some form has been practised. Indeed Self Enquiry is an ancient Practice embraced by the major religions and one which has inspired many in all walks of life. A great deal has been written over the centuries on this Practice, much of it complex, esoteric and, notably into the 21st century, empty and wordy rhetoric that has little to do with the Practice itself and simply confuses the would-be seeker of Truth. However there are two texts which stand out amongst all this verbiage: The Bhagavad Gita and this book, a collection of the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi who reawakened interest in this simple yet profound Practice in the early part of the 20th century. In fact I would go so far and say that if you are ready to proceed with this Practice these two books are all you require as helping hands and guiding lights. Although it may seem at a first look into this book that Sri Ramana is ignoring his own advice, "to leave off all this verbiage" this is not in fact the case. As you delve more deeply into a book where there are no empty or wasted words you will emerge with a clear understanding of the nature of Self Enquiry and its increasing relevance in today's challenged world. Highly recommended this is a book for those with a sincere interest in a Practice described as the direct path to Truth. A challenging Practice indeed but then who, or what, is being challenged.....?
"Before the Big Bang, I am-ness". This sounds better coming from an authentic Indian, rather than a Californian body builder, and Ramana Maharshi wasn't only authentic; he was the real deal!
I have researched this guy online and they all agree that a living Buddha walked in India until 1950. So I suppose this is the closest we will get to the authentic source within you and me, but is hidden.
These talks are similar to what we think a Buddha would have had with the sleepers. Ramana Maharshi was before the Internet and the spiritual supermarket industry and he didn't make any money, which is a change.
Here is a funny story I came across. The Swiss psychologist, C G Jung, who fancied himself a seer, travelled to India in 1938 but was terrified of Ramana Maharshi. He refused to visit the sage, he ran away! Why would Jung, who wrote about Ramakrishna and Samadhi and claimed to be a gnostic, run from Ramana Maharshi when he visited India?
When I was a kid, top heavyweight boxers would mouth off at iron Mike Tyson; until they got in the ring. Then they experienced the living force of boxing. Is this what happened to Carl Jung? I still respect Carl Jung and he is still a top heavyweight and he is a valuable figure. However, Ramanaa Maharshi was the Iron Mike Tyson of this subject and so if you are not really a fanatic on boxing, but want to see It in action, you mite as well watch You Tube vids of Mike Tyson in his prime, and if you just want to dabble in this Vedanta thing, then Ramana Maharshi is the man to check out.
I suppose we are all like Jung. What I mean is, we dabble in books, and we meditate, and we even try psychedelics, thinking that we know. But imagine if someone told you that a Buddha was living down the road? How would you react? We can't be too harsh on Jung then.
Anyway, Ramana Maharshi was a 'jnani'. This is a very important concept in Indian, alien to the West. The Gita uses this word but the English translators botch it; and Prabhupada also! (In this book they use the proper words in the Gita passages). In the books, they call him a 'saint', but that's a lazy translation of Jnani. I was put off for years reading this book because of the Christian overtones of the word 'saint'. Ramana Maharshi was a jnani, a knower. He is the true source of the spirit in our world. And he is authentic, because I can't find any dirt of Ramana Maharshi, and its easy to find dirt on Guru these days. This is good.
I have read Stripping the Gurus and I am aware of the tourism. (My rich cousins and their mates even went to India. They didn't get better). Also, the book, Karma Cola is the classic satire on this subject, and I am not being sarcastic here, you see. Because if we want to save the phenomenon, we must conclude that only a few have awoken. Then we can accept the sex scandles. Ramana Maharshi was before all the clowning around, post Beatles.
Today, all these Indians are in on the act. Even U G Krishmanurti is in on the act. He's the nihilist one; with big breasted models strategically placed in some of his videos (check out his 'final words' video).
U G Krishnamurti speaks perfect English. This should be our warning and a lesson in our accepting of the exotic Guru. The spirit died years ago, what's left is a spiritual supermarket.
Ramana Maharshi was before the 1960's and he is trustworthy. The rest are charlatans, apart from Nissargadatta who didn't speak English.
I am aware that this book is available for free online, but its sometimes nice to hold it in your hand and play with it and this huge book is amazing value for money!
Ken Wilber's intro is as excellent as all his writings. He is the best body-builder in the isle. The glossary at the back is one of the best I have come across.
Be As You Are is a spiritual classic from one of the most revered sages of modern day India. First and foremost, the book carries the frequency of presence and will have its effect without even reading a single word. As far as structure, David Godman has compiled Ramana's dialogues with his students with skill and clarity. I have the paperback edition which is 251 pages as well as the aged original hardbound copy edition entitled "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi" that was published by Sri Ramanasramam in Tiruvannamalai in South India.
As far as structure, "Be as You Are" begins with Acknowledgments followed by an Introduction that introduces Ramana, his life, awakening and Self-realization. The book is divided into six parts followed by a quite helpful Glossary, Notes and References, a Bibliography and an excellent Index.
Ramana is pointing to a single, indivisible Supreme Reality that lies deep within every human being. In fact, we are experiencing this Reality right now, we just may not be consciously aware of it. Ramana, with the help of David Godman, begins in Part One by presenting the nature of True Self and who the "teacher" really is. Part Two leads to Self-inquiry as a means to discover our true identity. It clearly presents the theory, practice and any misconceptions that we might have.
In Part Three, we focus on the guru and what the 'teacher' is actually representing and point to the stillness and silence of sat-sanga; being in the presence of someone who has realized the Self. Part Four is an instruction on meditation and yoga (meaning scriptures), the use of mantras (sacred words) and japa (repetition of the name of God) as well as life in the world.
Part Five is an important chapter for those awakening, since it is so easy to be trapped by spiritual experience, such as visions and psychic powers. Finally in Part Six, creation theories are discussed and the reality of the world is revealed. He touches on the subject of reincarnation, the nature of God, suffering and morality, and ends with a discussion on karma, destiny and free will.
Sooner or later, you will be lead to this profound spiritual classic, the extraordinary wisdom of Ramana Maharshi and realize the deepest peace. I strongly recommend this spiritual classic.