I would like to conclude with some paraphrased excerpts of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, the universally revered, nondualistic saint who lived in South India during the first half of the 20th century. These passages come from answers he gave to devotee’s questions over the years, They present an eloquent confirmation of our truth, derived from his direct experience.

        It is false to speak of realization. What is there to realize? The real is as it is, always. How to realize it? All that is required is this. We have realized the unreal, in other words, we regard the unreal as that which is real. We merely have to give up this attitude. That is all that is required for us to attain wisdom. We are not creating anything new or achieving something which we did not have before. We have simply to throw out all the age-old tendencies which are inside us, and when all of them have been given up, the Self alone will shine.

        There is no greater mystery than this, that being the reality ourselves, we seek to gain reality. We think there is something binding our reality and that something must be destroyed before the reality is gained. It is ridiculous. A day will dawn when we will ourselves laugh at our efforts. That which is, on the day of laughter, is also now.

        The very doubt “Can I realize?” or the feeling “I have not realized” are the obstacles to realization. Realization is not something to be gained afresh. The Self is already realized. All that is necessary is to get rid of the thought, “I have not realized”.

        No one can be an ajnani, a non-knower of the Self. Not knowing this, men wish to become jnanis, knowers of the Self. They think they must pass through rigorous spiritual practices and aus­terities before attaining realization. But why should they wander in that maze? All they gain in the end is cessation of the trouble of seeking. The Self which is eternal is always self-evident. Why should they not get this repose even at this moment.

        One goes through all sorts of austerities to become what one already is. Having the mistaken impression that one is limited and bound by the woes of samsara, the objective world of multiplicity, one engages in all kinds of efforts to get rid of what was never there.

        There is solitude everywhere. Your business is to seek it within and not without. When distractions seem to come, inquire from where they arise. You say that the answer does not seem to come despite the search that you have been conducting inwards. But it is the inquirer himself who is the answer. No other answer can come. Whatever comes cannot be true. What is, alone is true.

        The world which you try to prove to be real is all the time mocking you for seeking to know it, without first knowing yourself. If you rightly know the truth of yourself then both knowledge of the world and its opposite ignorance will disappear.

        The world is a mere shadow of the real. It is impossible to know it, to get hold of it. A child tries to touch the head of its own shadow but cannot do so, because when the child moves, the shadow-head moves also. The mother then puts the child's hand on his own head to show that the shadow-head is touched also. So too the world is got hold of and known only by getting hold of the Self.

        The seer and the seen together constitute the mind. See if there is such a thing as mind. When you search for it, the mind will merge into the Self and there will be neither seer nor seen, only the Self.

        The world and the individual mind arise and set together as one. Of the two, the world owes its appearance to the mind alone. But, neither is real. That alone is real in which this inseparable pair, the world and the individual mind, has its risings and settings. That reality is the one infinite consciousness, having neither rising nor setting.

        It is immaterial to the enlightened whether the world appears or not. In either case, his attention is directed towards the Self. He sees nothing separate from the Self. He is the Self. He always remains as the Self. That is all.

        You say dreamless sleep is empty of all consciousness, but you say so after waking from sleep. You do not say so while actually asleep. The mind was not present in deep sleep and it is natural for the mind to be ignorant of the consciousness that is in deep sleep. Not having experienced dreamless sleep, it is unable to know what it is like and it makes mistakes about it. The state of deep sleep is beyond the mind.

        Sleep is not ignorance; it is one’s pure state. Wakefulness is not knowledge; it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking. Your real nature covers both and ex­tends beyond. The Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. The sleep, dream and waking states are only modes passing before the Self. They proceed whether you are aware of them or not. To the realized saint, the jnani, waking, dream and sleep pass like the bullocks moving, standing, or being unyoked, while all the while the passenger in the cart is asleep. The jnani is asleep to the three states of consciousness, but he is ever awake to the one pure unchanging consciousness.

        In sleep you were not aware of that which troubles you now in the waking state. But you are the same being in both states. Troubles may arise in the waking state, but they are merely thoughts. Thoughts change but not you. Keep hold of the unchanging you. To do so, you need not stop the mind’s thinking. Just remember the source of the thoughts and be in earnest to find it.

        Whatever the dream, the only thing that has value and is worth doing with regard to dream is to wake up. When you wake up do you say that the experiences of the dream were real, although within the dream everyone there would have tried to convince you of it? No. Similarly, when you wake up to the Self these experiences of the world will be unreal, like in a dream, although others in that state will try to convince you that they are real.

        All the activities that the body is to go through are determined when it first comes into existence, and so you might as well be indifferent to them for you cannot really affect them. The only freedom you have is to turn your mind inwards and renounce activities there. The body is designed for the various things that are marked out for it in this life. A man is always free not to identify himself with the body and not be affected by the pleasures and pains resulting from its activities.

        Realize your pure being; have no confusion with regard to the Self. The body is the result of thoughts. The thoughts will play as usual but you will not be affected. You were not concerned with the body when asleep; thus you can always be.

        To destroy the ego and just to be, in other words, to abide in the Self, is the supreme attainment. The wisest thing for one to do is to catch hold of the I-thought from which all other thoughts rush out spontaneously. Dissect it by finding the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ An answer that comes in and by the mind is no answer at all. The only true answer is in the silence, the egoless state of pure awareness. Hold to that awareness and then what does it matter if the world appears or disappears? World is merely a manifestation of the Self. It is immaterial whether the Self mani­fests or ceases to manifest.

        There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to inquire who undergoes this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by it, not the Self, and that ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego completely by surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one’s helplessness and saying all the time, ‘Not I, but Thou, O my Lord’ and giving up the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be complete as long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love alone and for nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, com­plete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this efface­ment through Self-inquiry or through the path of devotion.

        There is only one real state, that of pure consciousness, pure awareness, pure existence. Existence or consciousness is the only reality. The three states of waking, dream and sleep cannot be real and so we cannot speak of them as having such and such a degree of reality. They simply come and go. The real must always exist. The pure ‘I’, the pure existence that alone persists through all the three states is real. Because of long habit we have been regarding these three states as real. We call the state of pure awareness or consciousness the fourth. But there is no fourth state. There is only one state. The Self alone remains as it always is. In truth nothing comes or goes. Existence is. That is the all of it.