Ramana Maharshi on the Essence of Bible and Christianity

(extracts from the book Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi)

Ramana Maharshi : The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God”. Stillness is the sole requisite for the realisation of the Self as God.

Later, the Maharshi said the whole Vedanta is contained in the two Biblical statements: “I am that I AM” and “Be still and know that I am God.”

The essence of mind is only awareness or consciousness. When the ego, however, dominates it, it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind being not limited by the ego, has nothing separate from itself and is therefore only aware. This is what the Bible means by “I am that I AM”.

Q : Should we read Gita once in a while?
Ramana Maharshi : Always.
Q : May we read the Bible?
Ramana Maharshi : The Bible and the Gita are the same.
Q : The Bible teaches that Man is born in sin.
Ramana Maharshi : The Man is sin. There was no man-sense in deep sleep. The body thought brings out the idea of sin. The birth of thought is itself sin.
To another question the Maharshi said: Everyone sees only the Self. The divine forms are only like bubbles in the ocean of Reality, or like pictures moving on a screen.
Q : The Bible says that the human soul may be lost.
Ramana Maharshi : The ‘I-thought’ is the ego and that is lost. The real ‘I’ is “I am That I Am.” In the Bible God says “I AM before Abraham.” He does not say “I was” but “I AM.”

Q : What is meant by taking the name of God? How to reconcile the following two ideas? The Bible says: “Do not take the name of God in vain.” The Hindu sastras enjoin taking the name of God all the time.
Ramana Maharshi : One should not use the name of God artificially and superficially without feeling. To use the name of God one must call upon Him and surrender to Him unreservedly. After such surrender the name of God is constantly with the man.

Ramana Maharshi : “O Arjuna, I am in the expanse of the Heart,” says Sri Krishna “He who is in the sun, is also in this man”, says a mantra in the Upanishads. “The Kingdom of God is within”, says the Bible. All are thus agreed that God is within.

Major A. W. Chadwick, an ardent English devotee, asked, “Why did Jesus call out ‘My God! My God!’ while being crucified?”

Ramana Maharshi : It might have been an intercession on behalf of the two thieves who were crucified with Him. Again a Jnani has attained liberation even while alive, here and now. It is immaterial as to how, where and when he leaves his body. Some jnanis may appear to suffer, others may be in samadhi, still others may disappear from sight before death. But that makes no difference to their jnana. Such suffering is apparent only to the onlooker and not to the Jnani, for he has already transcended the mistaken identity of the Self with the body.

The same gentleman asked: What is the significance of Christ in the illumination of St. Paul?
Ramana Maharshi : Illumination is absolute, not associated with forms. After St. Paul became Self-conscious he identified the illumination with Christ-consciousness.
Q : But Paul was not a lover of Christ then?
Ramana Maharshi: Love or hatred is immaterial. The thought of Christ was there. It is similar to Ravana’s case. Christ-consciousness and Self-Realisation are all the same.

Ramana Maharshi : Now that you identify yourself with the body you think that you are separate from the Spirit – the true Self. You must regain your source before the false identity ceases and you are happy.

Gold is not an ornament, but the ornament is nothing but gold. Whatever shape the ornament may assume and however different the ornaments are, there is only one reality, namely gold. So also with the bodies and the Self. The single reality is the Self. To identify oneself with the body and yet to seek happiness is like attempting to cross a river on the back of an alligator. The body identity is due to extroversion and the wandering of the mind. To continue in that state will only keep one in an endless tangle and there will be no peace. Seek your source, merge in the Self and remain all alone.

Rebirth means discontent with the present state, and desire to be born where there will be no discontent. Births, being of the body, cannot affect the Self. The Self remains over even after the body perishes. The discontent is due to the wrong identity of the Eternal Self with the perishable body. The body is a necessary adjunct of the ego. If the ego is killed the eternal Self is revealed in all its glory.

The body is the Cross. Jesus, the son of man, is the ego or ‘I am-the-body’ idea. When he is crucified, he is resurrected as the Glorious Self – Jesus, the Son of God! — “Give up this life if thou wouldst live”.

The two lady visitors returned in the morning and the younger one asked: “Is the experience of the Highest State the same to all? Or is there any difference?”
Ramana Maharshi : The Highest State is the same and the experience is also the same.
Q : But I find some difference in the interpretations put on the Highest Truth.
Ramana Maharshi : The interpretations are made with the mind. The minds are different and so the interpretations are different.
Q : I mean to ask if the seers express themselves differently?
Ramana Maharshi : The expressions may differ according to the nature of the seekers. They are meant to guide the seekers.
Q : One seer speaks in the terms of Christianity, another in those of Islam, a third of Buddhism, etc. Is that due to their upbringing?
Ramana Maharshi : Whatever may be their upbringing, their experience is the same. But the modes of expression differ according to circumstances.

Ramana Maharshi gave the true significance of the Christian faith thus:
Christ is the ego.
The Cross is the body.
When the ego is crucified, and it perishes, what survives is the Absolute Being (God), (cf. “I and my Father are one”) and this glorious survival is called Resurrection.

Ramana Maharshi : The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said. Still, it is a wonder that to teach this simple Truth there should come into being so many religions, creeds, methods and disputes among them and so on! Oh the pity! Oh the pity!
Maj. Chadwick : But people will not be content with simplicity; they want complexity.
Ramana Maharshi : Quite so. Because they want something elaborate and attractive and puzzling, so many religions have come into existence and each of them is so complex and each creed in each religion has its own adherents and antagonists. For example, an ordinary Christian will not be satisfied unless he is told that God is somewhere in the far-off Heavens not to be reached by us unaided. Christ alone knew Him and Christ alone can guide us. Worship Christ and be saved. If told the simple truth – “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” – he is not satisfied and will read complex and far-fetched meanings in such statements. Mature minds alone can grasp the simple Truth in all its nakedness.

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