Photo: Sri Ramana (seated, center) with devotees, Thiruvanamalai, India, 1930s.

A dialogue between Sri Ramana Maharshi and a disciple, as recounted in Maharshi’s Gospel: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, 1939.

Devotee: How is the Guru found?

Maharshi: God, who is immanent manifests, through Grace, according to the devotee’s development. The devotee thinks that the Guru is a person and expects a relationship, as between two physical bodies. But the Guru, who is God or the Self incarnate, works from within, helps the person to see the error of their ways and guides them in the right path until they realise the Self within.

Devotee: What should the devotee do then?

Maharshi: They have only to act up to the words of the Master and work within. The Master is both ‘within’ and ‘without,’ so they create conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepare the ‘’interior’ to drag you to the Centre. Thus the Guru gives a push from ‘without’ and exerts a pull from ‘within’ so that you may be fixed at the Centre. You think that the world can be conquered by your own efforts. When you are frustrated externally and are driven inwards, you feel ‘Oh! there is a Power higher than man!’

The ego is like a very powerful elephant which cannot be brought under control by anything less powerful than a lion, which, in this instance, is no other than the Guru, whose very look makes the elephant-like ego tremble and die. You will know in due course that your glory lies where you cease to exist. In order to gain that state, you should surrender yourself. Then, the Master sees that you are in a fit state to receive guidance, and guides you.

Devotee: But can the devotee obtain happiness?

Maharshi: The devotee surrenders and it means that there is no vestige of individuality [no sense of duality, of a self or ego that is separate from eternal Being] retained by them. If the surrender is complete, all sense of [separate] self is lost, and then there can be no misery or sorrow. The eternal Being is nothing but happiness. That comes as a revelation.