A man came to Ramana Maharshi and said, “I have come from very far, somewhere in Germany, and I have come to learn from you.” Ramana said, “Then you go elsewhere, because here we teach unlearning. Learning is not our way. You go elsewhere.”
He may have been a German scholar, he may have known the Vedas, Upanishads, it may have been because of his learning that he became interested in Ramana. Reading the Upanishads, the desire arises to find a man who knows. Moving through the pages of the Vedas one becomes enchanted, charmed, magnetized, hypnotized. One starts seeking a man who is a seer of whom the Vedas talk, a man of the caliber of the seers of the Upanishads – a man who knows. He may have come because of the scriptures.
But you don’t know the man who knows. He is always against scriptures. Scriptures may lead to him, but he will tell you to drop all scriptures. The ladder through which you have come – he will say, “Throw it! Now that you have reached me there is no need for Vedas and Upanishads and Korans; you drop them! Now I am here, alive.”
Jesus says: I am truth, no need to bring scriptures here. Ramana said, “Then you go elsewhere, because here we teach unlearning. If you are ready to unlearn, be here. If you have come to learn more, then this is not the right place. Then go somewhere else – universities exist for learning. When you come to me, come to unlearn. This is a university for unlearning, a university to create no-mind, a university where whatsoever you know will be taken away.”
All your knowledge has to be dropped so that you become knowing, so you get a perfection, a clarity, so that your eyes are not filled with theses, or theories, with prejudices, concepts; so your eyes have a clarity, an absolute clarity and transparency, so that you can see. The truth is already there. It has always been there.
Ramana Maharshi says: self-knowledge is an easy thing the easiest thing there is. Because it is so close! It is already there, it has always been there. Just a look, just a turning-in, and you are no more a beggar, and you have attained to emperor hood, and you are enthroned, and you are crowned, and you are a king. Just a look within…. But this is what Sufis say. Ramana is a Sufi.
I am using the word Sufi in the widest meaning of the word. Buddha is a Sufi, Jesus is a Sufi, Ramana is a Sufi. By Sufi, I mean one who is fed up with philosophies and has started searching for the real, who is no more satisfied with synthetic food and who searches for the real nourishment.
Ramana says: Self-knowledge is as easy a thing as any – the easiest thing there is. But just in contrast to it, listen to this sentence from Immanuel Kant, a great philosopher: Metaphysics is a call to reason to undertake anew the most difficult of all tasks, namely that of self-knowledge.
Philosophy makes it difficult, very difficult, almost impossible – because philosophy moves farther and farther away from it. To know about the self is not to know it, to know about God is not to know God – how can the ‘about’ be it? About and about…you go in circles. It becomes impossible.
The more you become clever, cunning, calculating, about the about, the farther and farther you are led astray. It is not a question of knowing about the self: it is simply a question of knowing it, being aware; not a question of thinking about it, but of centering in it. Sitting silently in it, and it is revealed.
Ramana is right, he has to be right – he knows. Immanuel Kant is not right, he cannot be right – he never came across it. Although he tried hard, he worked hard – he had one of the keenest intellects ever. His acumen cannot be doubted. His logic is perfect. But as far as his insight is concerned, he is blind.
It is like a blind man thinking about light – it is bound to be impossible. How can a blind man think about light?
It happened, Maharshi Raman was dying. On Thursday April 13th, a doctor brought Maharshi a palliative to relieve the congestion in the lungs, but he refused it. “It is not necessary, everything will come right within two days,” he said. And after two days he died.
At about sunset, Maharshi told the attendants to sit him up. They knew already that every movement, every touch, was painful, but he told them not to worry about that. He was suffering from cancer – he had a throat cancer, very painful. Even to drink water was impossible, to eat anything was impossible, to move his head was impossible. Even to say a few words was very difficult.
He sat with one of the attendants supporting his head. A doctor began to give him oxygen, but with a wave of his right hand he motioned him away.
Unexpectedly, a group of devotees sitting on the verandah outside the hall began singing Arunachala-Siva – a bhajan that Maharshi liked very much. He liked that spot, Arunachala, very much; the hill he used to live upon – that hill is called Arunachala. And the bhajan was a praise, a praise for the hill.
On hearing it, Maharshi’s eyes opened and shone. He gave a brief smile of indescribable tenderness. From the outer edges of his eyes tears of bliss rolled down.
Somebody asked him, “Maharshi, are you really leaving us?”
It was hard for him to say, but still he uttered these few words: “They say that I am dying – but I am not going away. Where could I go? I am always here.”
One more breath, and no more. There was no struggle, no spasm, no other sign of death: only that the next breath did not come.
What he says is of immense significance – “Where could I go? I am always here.” There is nowhere to go. This is the only existence there is, this is the only dance there is – where can one go? Life comes and goes, death comes and goes – but where can one go? You were there before life.