Where are the Self-realized people who teach Ramana’s method based on their own experience?

I don’t know of a single living person who:

1. Claims to have reached Ramana’s state by following the method that he taught, and

2. Teaches that method.

The only person I can think of who met those criteria was Arunachala Ramana, the man who started Aham and wrote this book, but he died in 2010. (I think he probably really was in Ramana’s state.)

I mainly know about teachers who write and give talks in English, so it’s likely that I’m overlooking people who teach mostly in other languages.

Who can we add to the list?

11 thoughts to “Where are the Self-realized people who teach Ramana’s method based on their own experience?”

  1. In my understanding and experience there are three steps:
    1) Landing in Awareness , the first glimpse of Self… you know that thinking and Awareness are different.
    2. Start abiding in Awareness… it increases as we start staying in self, even during normal walks of Life. One keeps shifting between Awareness and losing to mind. As we advance moments of Awareness are more and we catch ourselves when we get lost with mind.
    3. Effortless , choice less Awareness … Sahaja Samadhi…. where we are in Oneness!
    There is no difference between seer and seen! The ultimate state of Being… Sahaja Samadhi.!!
    In my view, second stage is where few of us are … but to reach Ramana’s stage, either needs God’s grace ( in rare cases as sudden exaltation ) and/ or incessant practice!
    Nevertheless, there is no reason to prove to anyone . It’s better to spend our time to perfect that stage.
    Please do not publish my comments, name or details anywhere. My request

  2. Grateful that you have posted this question. I agree as another commenter suggests, possibly Michael Langford, but still not fully certain. I was in a private yahoo group with him almost ten years ago and my experience in this group left me not so sure. Given that I am not self-realized, I acknowledge too that my doubts could very easily be my own ignorance. He has now (at least to my knowledge) almost completely disappeared from his already reclusive public life. I wish he were more available now, maybe my “growth” (God-willing there has been growth), would allow me to see things differently, more clearly in regard to him. This post reminded has me that I need to read his personal account — I actually just paused and ordered it from Amazon in the middle of typing this comment 🙂

    A bit off-topic, ie., not specific to Ramana Maharshi, is that I have a long-list of “gurus”, that that at first glance seem quite compelling and possibly self-realized, only to find out that they are abusive, controlling, donned with worldly-possessions and money (not that this necessarily preclude self-realization), and clearly have an ego-self that is alive and well. It is disconcerting and makes an already challenging (and beautiful) path for seekers even more difficult.

    1. Barbara, are you okay? I wrote to you several times this past week by email and Facebook Messenger but no answer. I don’t mean to nag you for a reply, just wondering if you’re okay.

  3. I don’t know of people in Raman’a state (complete self-knowing or absorption without a sense of identity) thanks to his method besides Michael Langford who understood that the ‘I’ Ramana was referring to (and Nisargadata’s I am) is this everyday awareness (dog shit awareness/Paul Hedderman, silent spectator/Paul Brunton) .

    Self inquiry is a very clever and direct way.
    I used to paraphrase the “who am I?” question:
    Who is trying to wake up/find herself/know the truth?
    Who is looking for an answer?
    Who is looking, period? THAT STOPPED ME..✌
    and it still does…
    It’s not really a question, it’s a looking.

    Right now, even in dreadful situations
    I keep on looking at the one looking
    (being the looking – knowing – being)
    by stilling and relaxing the eyes
    even while taking in bad things.
    and again and again and again……………

    After years of “spiritual searching’ (=reading/writing/talking)
    I finally got how simple this is and funny too – practicing myself

  4. An awakened teacher based in Yorkshire, UK uses different tools to help students, including self-inquiry. She makes clear it is not an intellectual exercise. She has talks and meditations available, some of which are on this topic. https://www.helenhamilton.org/

  5. Has anyone obtained realization by practicing the “Who am I?” method of self-inquiry? Did Ramana himself obtain realization by practicing this method? If not, perhaps that’s why no one is teaching it. And anyway, what is there to teach? We have Ramana’s instructions for the method.

    To me, the question is pointless and meaningless. My immediate answer is I don’t know. Moreover, I will never know. So why bother asking that question? I don’t believe it will lead me to the imperishable Self or Brahman seated in my heart.

    The most interesting take on Ramana’s death experience comes from David Godman’s original blog on Ramana — and it has always stuck with me. Is it possible that the “flash of excitement,” the “heat” that Ramana experienced at age 16 on the upper story of his uncle’s house, which instantly made him fear for his life — the obliteration of his previously bounded and circumscribed self-identity? — was actually some sort of spirit or deity possessing him? Godman provides a lot of evidence for this, much of it in Ramana’s own words: “It appeared to be like some avesam or some spirit possessing me,” states Bhagavan in that account.

    Writes Godman:

    “There are two important points in this account that are not brought out in the published version. The first is Bhagavan’s repeated use of the word avesam to describe his initial perception of his experience. In Tamil the word means ‘possession’ in the sense of being taken over by a spirit. For the first few weeks Bhagavan felt that he had been taken over by a spirit which had taken up residence in his body. The second related point is that the feeling persisted until shortly before he left home.”


    Perhaps it was something he picked up in the Meenakshi Sundaresan Temple. Fred, you have had similar experiences from visiting that temple, have you not?

    Godman’s blog post continues. Bhagavan is speaking:

    “[T]he possession led me frequently to the Meenakshi Sundaresan Temple [in Madurai]. Formerly I would visit it occasionally with friends, but at that time [it] produced no noticeable emotional effect, much less a change in my habits. But after the awakening I would go there almost every evening, and in that obsession I would go and stand there for a long time alone before Siva, Nataraja, Meenakshi and the sixty-three saints. I would sob and shed tears, and would tremble with emotion.”

    If possession by a spirit is indeed what led to Ramana’s death experience at 16, then his “Who am I?” self-inquiry would be a perfectly natural reaction to that event. Suddenly feeling he was dying, being wiped away, young Ramana had to think fast, think on his feet. In just a few minutes, he had to greatly expand — or reduce — his idea of self. In what felt like a life-or-death emergency, Ramana had to redefine himself almost instantly in order to survive. He came to identify himself with his new feeling: “I AM that feeling, that current. I AM the eternal ‘I.’” (my paraphrase)

    Bhagavan: “‘I’, being a subtle current, … had no death to fear. … I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me, a feeling I had had ever since I wrote my parting note and left home. I had ceased to regard the current as my narrow ‘I’. This current, or avesam, now felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition. … [T]he awakening gave me a continuous … feeling that my Self was a current or force in which I was perpetually absorbed whatever I did.”

    So Ramana yielded to this force and learned to identify with it instead of with his previous self-identity. To him, the avesam became the Self. Or perhaps it was just a spontaneous awakening of his kundalini — which often happens in late adolescence and can be terrifying.

    Finally, Godman adds in a subsequent post: “I think this is a more correct narration of the events, for Bhagavan himself said in Day by Day with Bhagavan, 4th October 1946, ‘The fact is, I did nothing. Some higher power took hold of me and I was entirely in its hand.’”


    As for “Who am I?” self-inquiry method, I quote in parting the wise words of my own guru, U.G. Krishnamurti: “Buddhism has never produced another Buddha. Christianity has never produced another Christ. Shankaracharya has never produced another Shankara.” Perhaps the same can be said for the self-inquiry method of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. (^_^)

    1. Hi Miron.

      Thank you for your extremely interesting comment. I think the avesam was Ramana’s direct experience of the Self. I’ll explain in a moment a possible reason why it seemed like possession to him. Other people have reported realization experiences like this (an animating current in the body). Ed Muzika, for example, talks about the “life force.” One of this blogs’ commenters has told me privately about experiences like this. Perhaps that person will say something here.

      Sometimes people put direct experiences of the Self in two categories, shakti and consciousness. If we divide them this way, Ramana’s experience falls into the “shakti” category. It would be natural for Ramana to experience the Self in this way at that time because he was trying to answer the question, “What exactly is alive in me? Will it die when my body dies or will it continue?” I believe he had been wondering about this since his father died four years earlier and now the issue had suddenly come to a head for him because he thought he himself was dying. I’ve written about this before on this blog.

      Has anyone obtained realization by practicing the “Who am I?” method of self-inquiry? Did Ramana himself obtain realization by practicing this method?

      Like I just said, I suspect that what Ramana wondered on the day he realized the Self is more accurately expressed by the words “What is alive in me?”

      He came to identify himself with his new feeling: “I AM that feeling, that current. I AM the eternal ‘I.’” (my paraphrase)

      There was no longer any I in him that could identify. That’s what he means when he distinguishes “I am I” from “I am that”. (This point is unintelligible in ashram publications because they consistently mistranslate “I am I” as “I-I”.) When he says that the entire Vedanta is summed up by the Biblical statement “I am that I am”, this is what he means. The I in that Biblical mahavakya can only be itself. It cannot be anything else. It cannot identify.

      Only the ego can identify. Ramana’s ego no longer existed after his 15 minutes on his bedroom floor.

      Perhaps it was something he picked up in the Meenakshi Sundaresan Temple. Fred, you have had similar experiences from visiting that temple, have you not?

      (Edit: Miron, sorry, I think I misunderstood your question when I answered it the first time. I’ll answer it a second time after “P.S.” below.)

      I don’t think the avesam is something he picked up. It’s not something that can be picked up. It’s something that is always here that we notice or recognize. The avesam is the Self.

      Why then might it feel like possession? Because when the illusion of personal doership collapses, the only agent left standing is the Self. The old agent (the illusory one) suddenly vanishes and is apparently replaced by a new agent, the Self. But the replacement is an illusion. The Self was always there.

      The experience that I had in the temple was the goddess encouraging me to notice and setting me on a path to notice. Years later she told me she helps everyone who has that desire in the same way she helped me. So yes, I imagine she helped Ramana the same way she helped me. It took 30 years for me to realize what she had done for me. Maybe he never realized this or chose not to talk about it for some reason. Maybe he did talk about it but nobody wrote down what he said. I had no other guru except her. He had Arunachala. Maybe that’s why he said little about her.

      She gave me some sort of glimpse on the day when I first entered the temple, and I felt like my body was being operated like a puppet, and that does sound a little bit like Ramana’s avesam, but my ability to understand or recognize what was happening was so limited, so undeveloped, that it was all a fog to me. I think Ramana’s experience must have had a brilliant clarity.

      Of course her husband Sundareswarar (Shiva) was there too. Maybe the “glimpse” was him not her. Maybe the glimpse was the same as Ramana’s avesam but I felt it more dimly. Maybe the glimpse was both of them together, Shakti/Shiva. I don’t know.

      Whenever she (Meenakshi/Parvati) talked about the Self with me, she referred to it as “my husband.” (Past tense because that period of my life seems to be over.) I take her to be a dualistic manifestation like other entities. If she could give us Realization she would but she can’t. It’s not in her power. She can help us make our way to the gate but we have to walk through on our own.

      In reality we are her husband. You, me, the other commentators, Ramana — everyone and everything. We can’t get possessed by him because we are already always him. We can identify with him but that identification is absurd because the I that is doing the identifying is him, and when it identifies it reaches out to an object which creates the illusion of not being him.

      When we reach out like that, we push ourselves away from what we touch. (People love to drag physics into spiritual conversations — okay, this is Newton’s third law. 🙂 ) We not only push ourselves away, we create an “I” that can be pushed away. The real I is evident only when there is nothing for it to push against. This is a way to paraphrase paragraph 4 of Who Am I?

      P.S. I just reread your question and realize that I misunderstood it. Sorry. I’ll answer it again.

      Fred, you have had similar experiences from visiting that temple, have you not?

      From visiting the temple — you mean afterward, right? What happened afterward, several times, is that the goddess took control of my mind and/or body and did things with them while I watched. She did this to teach me certain things. I always knew it was her doing this. It wasn’t a direct experience of the Self. It wasn’t a permanent current.

      1. An Indian spiritual teacher was given two books – one called Conscious Eating which I co-authored and the other titled ‘Who Am I?’
        He told me the book was good and I asked him which one he was referring to and he said ‘What Am I?’ So, he clearly thought of our essence as more of a ‘what’ than a ‘who’ which gels with my own experience and the comment above, ‘what is alive in me’ rather than ‘who am I?’.

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