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Talks with Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness Paperback – July 1, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
Every questioner is supplied with the teaching most appropriate and useful for his/her personal situation and level of understanding; as in all good teaching, there is no "same answers for same questions". Ramana's wide-ranging use of different sources, metaphors, examples, stories, quotations, etc. ranging from the Bible to the Gita or Vedas, is engaging, effective and ever illuminating whether you are reading "Talks" for the first or the 100th time. "Talks" is richer with each visitation with something new revealed. It is also a great "open anywhere and read a page" book - every page is rich with insight and understanding requiring no prior chapter or verse as background.
As Ramana spoke several languages, including English, and there were no tape recordings, only written versions, one might question whether these words represent his actual intent. In fact, what was entered for each day was checked that day personally by Ramana to verify that it was correct.
This is the contemporary Western version created by Inner Directions and is more accessible for such folk than earlier versions which had some "British" English of the period, Sanskrit languaging which was not standardized, and repetitive passages. This most current version has an Index, much needed when a specific topic is covered in many different places in talks arranged in chronological order, rather than by subject.
If one had to go to a desert island and could only take one book, as Ken Wilber mentions in his Foreword, this would be the one. It lives up to Wilber's billing; this is as good as it gets.
Most of the answers from Ramana Maharshi in this huge volume of ultimate spiritual Q&A are as disconcerting as this one -- which by the way has a double entendre for those who know the advaita equalization of waking life and dreams (the devotee did not get he WAS INDEED asking "in the dream"...). What strikes the reader first is the brilliance of this humble man, his razor-sharp intelligence. But as we turn the pages and ponder his words in hundreds of dialogues, little by little we realize we are dealing here with the real thing: a man who has crossed over to the other shore, a jivanmukta ("liberated while alive"). I have read quite a lot in the last few years on philosophy and spirituality, and my feeling regarding this book is one of reaching rock bottom: you simply cannot go deeper.
The question "Did you exist in deep sleep?", for example, sounds to me the best argument for the unreality of the ego, which Ramana sometimes call the "small I". Very ingenious. No one denies, while awake, his own existence in deep sleep. But whence comes our certainty, if we where unconscious? It comes from a silent witness. If you understand that the same witness is the indestructible background of the bundle of thoughts we call "mind", it is game over for the ego and the suffering it brings to you.
My limited exposure to advaita vedanta suggests that it may not be suitable for some (perhaps most) spiritual seekers, because it may be misconstrued as nihilistic. If you want to take the risk, this may be one of the best books to read. Overall, a very fine edition, compleat with sanskrit glossary, anotated vedanta bibliography and full thematic index. A work of love.
I could give many reasons: the sheer brilliance of his answers, the keen wits of his arguments, the love, humbleness and peace that flow from this pages like nothing i've seen before. But i'll give none. Someone said in a review above: this book is Rock bottom. Couldn't agree more. Thats the book i'd take to a desert island. For sure! This is it. The real thing.
However, as well pointed by other reviews, its not suitable for everyone. It might be good to start with a smaller one (like "Who Am I?", available for free on Ramana's official website).
You'll either LOVE this book or dislike it, like some previous reviews. Thats ok. Ramana would say: nevermind the others, let them be. Find out who you are. All others will be fine in due course. Brilliant. Truthful. Humble. Rock bottom.
Examples? Just a few:
God? Reply: Forget about God. You exist right here and right now. No one denies that. Find out who you are first, then inquire about God, if you feel inclined to do so.
Siddhis (Occult powers)? Reply: Forget about siddhis. They are all manifestations of the duality, therefore ilusory. Do not seek them. Its imaterial to spiritual realization. Find out who you are.
Help others? Reply: Realize your true Self. Interfere the least possible with the affairs of others and be compassionate. Thats the most effective help, indeed the only true help. The silence of the sages accomplishes more than all the speeches of men.
Yoga and other practices? Reply: They are good as aids to Realization, but not essential. The Self IS always. Can you not exist now? Do you need to do anything to be as you are, to abide in your true nature? Simply turn the mind within and seek your source. Asanas, pranayama, etc, may be left aside. Self-enquiry alone will do.
The guru? Reply: The guru is within. The guru is the Self. This body you call Ramana is not the guru. Do not prostrate before me with your body, but keep the mind in its source. THAT is true prostration.
And right before his death: " They say i'm going to die. But i'm not going anywhere. I am here. Where else could I go?"
If you grasp the depth of these words, then you will know why i took the time to review this book. Thats my only review, and probably the last.
Like many said above: you simply can not go deeper.
Do yourself a HUGE favor and get this book, even if you hate it afterwards. It is well worth the shot.