the Living and the Dead

  • During the time when Sri Ramana used to sit in the old Hall of the ashram, one day there arrived a sadhu among the gathering. He approached Bhagavan and said, “Bhagavan! It is said that the Self (Atman) is present in everything. Does that mean that the Self is to be found, even in a dead body?” Bhagavan replied, “Oh! This is what you want to know, is it? Is it the dead body who wants to know, or is it you? Who is asking the question?. The Sadhu replied, “it is I who want to know, Bhagavan.”

    Then Bhagavan explained: While you are asleep, do you wonder, Am I here or not?. It is only in the wakeful state that you say, ‘I am’. Similarly, the Self is definitely present even in a dead body. But if you enquire further, you will realise that both the dead body and the living body are equally illusory. That which moves, we label as being ‘alive’, and that which is motionless, we say is ‘dead’. The differentiation is only in our minds. In our dreams, we see both the living and the dead. As soon as we wake up, we realise that both the living and the dead of our dreams are but illusions. In the same way, this entire universe is nothing more than a grand illusion. The birth of the I thought is referred to as birth and the disappearance of the I thought is death. Both birth and death are for the ego alone. Neither birth nor death can touch the I which forms the essence of your being. When the awareness of the Self is strong, you are there; you are equally there when the self-awareness fades. It is ‘you’ that is the source of the ‘I-thought”. But the ‘I-thought’ is not you.

    Realisation is nothing but perceiving the source of the cycle of birth and death, and uprooting the ego and destroying it completely. That is, you must ‘die’ and still remain aware. He who dies with awareness is transformed into pure Self. That is, when the ego dies, the Self is born. When this happens, all doubts vanish immediately. The veil of illusion is lifted and everything is perceived properly. All confusion is removed. The differentiation between birth and death, living and dead, everything disappears. The Self is all-knowing. The Self has no doubts. It is only the ego that is plagued by doubts.

    – (from Cherished Memories by T.R.Kanakammal)