on May 3, 2001
Godman has done a great service for those who want an introduction to the (conceptual) teaching of Ramana Maharshi, one of the great Hindu mystics and teachers of the last century. Ramana's recorded teachings are mostly conversations with a variety of people, whom he addressed on numerous topics from different levels of awareness according to each one's ability and understanding. The conversations then, read chronologically, seem disorganized, confusing and even contradictory. Godman has defragmented them, as it were, putting together continuous dialogs on each of twenty-one topics. He arranges the topics in order of importance, giving the central and purest teaching first and the adaptations afterwards. The book is divided into six general sections on the nature and experience of the Self, the practice of self-enquiry that leads to this experience, the role of the guru, the place for meditation and yoga, levels or varieties of religious experience, and theoretical metaphysical concerns (creation, reincarnation, God, suffering, and karma). Each general section contains three to five subordinate topics treated in a unified conversation. Of particular value are Godman's one or two page introductions to each section and topic that read sequentially provide an excellent introduction to and summary of Raman's teaching. While the introduction and composite conversations are sometimes repetitious, Ramana's concepts are sufficiently obscure that repetition is a clarifying desideratum.
on January 15, 2006
Ramana Maharishi, was a philosopher, a realized soul and a teacher. A very humble person who lived at the Arunachala Hill in southern India during late 19th and early 20th century period.
His view of the world, and the way he perceived it and lived his life are simply fantastic. Based on the ancient Hindu philosophy of Advaita, or 'non-dualism', he lived the life of a enlightened soul, and helped others approach reality.
Advaita in a nutshell says that `Everything is the same'. You and me and all the things that we perceive and the entire Universe are one and the same. All the things that we perceive, that we imagine, think and so on.., are nothing but illusion, a mere play of the mind.
What was special about Ramana, was not any uniqueness in his definition of reality. He simply said what Advaita says is basically the truth. What he did was he simplified the approach to the realization of the truth. He prescribed very definite and immediate steps that one can follow in order to realize the Self. His simple method was to first go and figure out who the individual really was? To figure out the root of this feeling of `I'. at each and every moment, right at the time of the `I' feeling arises, such as `I am happy', or `I am feeling overwhelmed' or `I have an Idea'. One has to figure out who this I really is. Excluding step by step the physical body, the thoughts, the ideas etc.. until one reaches the ultimate. It is not merely an intellectual exercise, it is a path that leads to the ultimate realization or awareness. Teaching this Direct method is what makes Ramana unique.
This book by David Godman, makes an excellent introduction to the teachings of Ramana. The book is ordered into chapters of different topics such as The Self, Enquiry & Surrender, The Guru, Meditation and Yoga, Expereince and Theory. Each topic is in the format of a brief overview of the subject according to Ramana, and followed by questions and answers that were actually answerd by Ramana to disciples who came from all over the world, and were recorderd at various points in time.
The material has been well researched and collected from several sources, and from interviews with people who were close to Ramana, making it a very coherent source.
The author understands the anxieties and searchful mind of the reader who is just getting to know Ramana, and Advaita, the text is very very lucid, one can almost hear the author as well as Ramana speak. The questions take one from simple to more deeper discussions.
I realized how simple, clear and straightforward this book was, more after reading lots of other resources on Ramana
on April 6, 2006
I have owned this book for one year now. I bought it because a guru-skeptical friend told me that Ramana Maharshi was enlightened. On the front cover picture, I immediately noticed the pleasant glow in Ramana's eyes that my friend spoke of, but they did not teleport me to instant samadhi. Nor did Ramana's answers to seekers' questions (this book is in Q-and-A format) lead me to what he terms "abidance in the Self." I briefly tried to practice Ramana's self-enquiry, to no avail, and abandoned the book last summer. For some reason, the book sat on my night table for seven months. I really don't know why I didn't just put it back on my bookshelf.
Finally, after a huge life crisis last winter, I picked the book up off the night table. This time, something "clicked" and I figured out what Ramana meant by the "I-feeling." To make a long story short, I'm now planning a visit to Ramana's ashram.
Ramana Maharshi was not just enlightened, he WAS that Light. This is what makes his realization stand out--in a world where gurus and masters rarely do more than "see the light," Ramana somehow... became the light. That is why looking at his photo is as powerful as a thousand pages of his teaching. It is also why some people don't understand the words in this book. Of course the words are nonsense, they are not the point! If you're pondering the conceptual implications of Ramana's teaching of the Self, you might as well be contemplating the "meaning" of the letter "f" in "Self."
Changed my path. I suppose that's worth five stars?
on September 8, 2004
This book would have been a certain 5 stars if language were more readable rather than scholarly in tone.
Also one must read the other fine book Talks With Ramana Maharshi to get a firmer grasp of this man and do not pass up the classic I AM THAT...from another great Maharshi,Nisargadatta.I guess transcription is an issue but this book is still a great read..Much insight and dialogue in the master student question and answer format..i am certain that each time one reads its words a new meaning will arise...Eastern philosopy at its finest in my opinion..wisdom from a truly remarkable man. Still a necessary addition to one's bookshelf.Its lucidity still rings despite the complexity of it's prose.
on April 28, 2009
I have read numerous books about Ramana Maharshi, his teachings, his students and ashram as well as the lives and teachings of some of his students. I can say with some authority that if you are new to Ramana Maharshi or you do not have this book yet that without doubt you should buy this book. This is the second book I recommend to anyone who is interested in the enlightenment teaching of the east. The first book is actually by a western teacher, Eckhart Tolle since his teachings are without doubt the easiest for the western mind to understand. Of the eastern teachers Ramana Maharshi is without doubt the easiest to understand and of all the books about Ramana Maharshi this is the book to buy. Some of the other works especially the ones with Tamil Verse can be at times be cryptic in meaning and requiring the reader to already have a certain level understanding. This book by David Godman, makes an excellent introduction to the teachings of Ramana. Ordered into chapters of different topics and each topic has a brief overview of the subject according to Ramana followed by questions and answers that were taken from interactions between Ramana and his disciples. This book is without doubt the clearest, well organized and most comprehensive summary of Ramana Maharshi, teachings. Pure Gold.
Ramana Maharshi (The Silent Sage)
Ramana Maharshi, was a enlightened man (a 20th century Buddha) and a reluctant teacher who lived most of his life at the foot of Arunachala Hill in southern India. This man lived his teaching, he walked his talk. He was also known as the great silent sage because for many years he refused to talk and desired privacy even though he gathered an increasingly number of followers. I can not understand how someone who is silent can attract followers. I imagine he must have radiated feelings of peace and love that were so powerful and so noticeable that others were able to recognize him and were willing to follow him. Eventually he did start talking when one day he noticed a boy who was struggling to read. He felt compassion and was moved to help the boy. However he remained mostly silent even when he did start speaking. I read that he spoke so little that you could easily count the number of words he said in a day.
What Ramana Maharshi Taught
Ramana Maharshi taught a simplified direct approach to the realization of the truth. His teachings are consistent with and generally associated with the Hindu Philosophy School of Advaita Vedanta but do differ in some important regards. The Vedanta school is a spiritual tradition based in the Upanishad scriptures and is concerned with the self-realisation. Advaita is a sub-school of Vedanta which teaches that the world, as it appears, is illusory. (It is a common misunderstanding to think that this means that the world does not exist. What it means is that the world does not exist in the way it appears to you.) Brahman is the sole reality, it cannot be said to possess any attributes whatsoever. Ignorance of this reality is the cause of all suffering in the world and only upon true knowledge of Brahman can liberation be attained. When a person tries to know Brahman through his mind, Brahman appears as God (Ishvara), separate from the world and from the individual. In reality, there is no difference between the individual soul (Atman) and Brahman. Liberation lies in knowing the reality of this non-difference (i.e. "a-dvaita", "non-duality").
Ramana Maharshi teachings differ from traditional Advaita Vedanta school, which recommends a negationist ("not this", "not this") path, or mental affirmations that the Self was the only reality, such as "I am Brahman" or "I am He", while Ramana Maharshi advocates the enquiry ("Who am I"). Furthermore, unlike the traditional Advaitic school, Sri Ramana strongly discouraged most who came to him from adopting a renunciate lifestyle. Ramana Maharshi says "To make the mind subside, there is no adequate means other than self-enquiry. If controlled by other means, mind will remain as if subsided, but will rise again"
David Godman (The Author)
The author traveled to India in 1976 and visited the Ramana Maharshi's ashram. Since that time he has devoted his life to the teachings of Ramana Maharshi He has lived, meditated and worked at the ashram and to date has edited or written fourteen books on Ramana Maharshi, his teachings and his direct disciples. In other words the editor is the foremost expert on Ramana Maharshi, his life and his teachings and knows exactly how to be like you, the reader, a seeker on the path to enlightenment.
on July 7, 2003
BE AS YOU ARE is full of well rounded questions and answers on all topics of interest to the spiritual seeker.
If you're inclined to "bare bones" essentials in your spiritual teachings this is a highly recommended book. The core teaching is self-inquiry, a method of keeping sharp focus on the Self. Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj were both well known for very direct approaches to spirituality. This book shows how Ramana Maharshi keeps his teachings very simple and direct from all angles. How he addresses questions to
subjects like: Surrender, Meditation, Yoga, Mantras, Reincarnation, Karma and many, many other topics posed to him. He always found a way to keep all these topics aligned with knowing the Self, your unconditioned state. If there is one thing this book does is help streamline many different angles and teachings into one core practice: Dive inside the "I AM" know that intimimately until you know you are not the body.
on May 26, 2006
of all the books written by and about Ramana, this is probably the very best. I have read all of them that I could get my hands on, and keep coming back to this one.
on November 15, 1999
Maharshi Ramana through his silence quells every doubt. In fact he repeatedly said "Silence is Eternal Speech." "Be Still and know that I am God." Some seekers insisted on asking him questions verbally, unable to rise to his level of understanding. The seekers posed questions to suit their tastes. This book is a summary of responses to such questions asked by seekers. The answers are relevant when viewed from the perspective of the questioner/seeker.
The summary is simple and lucid. You are already REALISED. Just be your REAL-SELF. Understand this and there is nothing more to accomplish in life. Erase your small self and merge into the REAL-SELF. The Universal "I" or REAL-SELF is God, Shiva/Vishnu or Atman-Brahman, Christ the Spirit, Buddha Mind, Ayin of the Kabblah, Allah of Islam, Tao of the Taosim. Universal I and your REAL-SELF are one and the same. The same Essence exists in all sentient beings. This Essence is Sat-Chit-Ananda. Being-Awareness-Joy. The perfect SELF.
Maharshi was superb Universalist. He never distinguished between people. Seekers came to him from all faiths and religions and all were treated with respect and understanding.
Mr.Godman has done a remarkable job of clarifying the responses from a variety of sources. He needs to be thanked by all.
If you are trying to understand Hinduism "So called Intellectually" then you should look at Indian Pholosophy by S. Radhakrishnan. This book is not for readers but for seekers of one real truth the SELF (Atman or Brahman).
on April 27, 1999
Ramana Maharshi is one of the most extraordinary guides to the realms of the spirit that I have encountered. This particular volume is, in my opinion, a very skillful description of Ramaman's thought; the best I've found in English. Ramana's message is that of the use of self-enquiry will lead one to have direct experience with the Self, one's true identity. He urges his followers to consistantly ask oneself the question "Who am I" and/or "Who is asking this question". He also places major emphasis on silence, especially the silence of the mind. The book is a conscise but thorough discussion of his method in all of it's aspects. Steven Levine, Ram Dass, and Ken Wilber all refer to Ramana Mahrarshi as a key teacher on their respective paths. I can concur in their assesment.
on May 29, 2002
This is the meaning of this title. Needs some experience in phylosophy to understand the content of this book, not just the reading of some other books. I simply amazed to see the greatness and simplicity in the teachings of this Saint. He says the Self is right here and now, all that we need to do is wake up and see the Reality. The Saint preaches some really easy method of Realization which simply works! You dont have to break your nervous system to see that Reality! Simply great! Very encouraging for practical people. Finally, the editing done by Godman is simply a great collection of content.