Ramana Maharshi’s meditation technique for enlightenment was not a technique to get you to some enlightenment in the future. Rather, he kept pointing to this moment as the means to attain enlightenment. He would direct your attention back on to attention itself.
Ramana Maharshi’s meditation technique could be described in three parts: The first was to awaken your attention to the Self and the second was to simply abide in the self. The third was to transmit this experience directly to you.
His simple method to attain the Self was self inquiry. Whatever thought arises, you ask ‘to whom does this thought come?’ This question directs your attention back on to itself. Or if you feel the thought comes to ‘me,’ then the question would be “who is this me? Who am I?”
This simple practice if done with focus brings you very quickly if not immediately to your experience of existing beyond any thought.
If you really look back within yourself for this ‘I’ you will find the source of what you are is attention itself, is a sense of being. So the question cuts through all thinking to an actual experience or realization of what you are at your essence. It silences the mind and all that is left is attention itself.
To explain it in another way, you have thoughts about who you are that you identify with. “I am Jon. I am a carpenter. This is what I like, this is what I don’t like. This is what I know. This is what is important… ” This sense of ‘me’ exists solely through thinking. Thoughts arise and you identify them to be you. This is who you assume yourself to be.
But with Ramana Maharshi’s self inquiry technique, you cut through this identification with thoughts. The question ‘who am I?’ may even stop thoughts all together for a moment. And what is left is a sense of being, a sense of existing that is not dependent on thoughts. It is a sense that you exist completely free of thoughts, even free of a body, as formless being, formless awareness.
Through this practice of asking ‘Who am I?’ your mind begins to become familiar with its source. You begin to get accustomed to experiencing yourself as awareness itself, as consciousness itself. You begin to feel the bliss of simply being rather than being caught up in thoughts and therefore you naturally gravitate to this primal experience of being consciousness.
And so we come to the second part of Ramana Maharshi’s meditation technique for enlightenment which is to simply abide in the self.
Rather than getting caught up in your thinking, you learn to allow thinking to be without being involved with it. You learn to rest your attention where it wants to naturally rest: in itself.
If you practice this, you will see how you keep getting caught up in thinking. Your attention for however long was resting on the feeling of existing prior to thinking but somehow, your attention left the feeling of being and got caught up in thoughts again.
At first, you used the question ‘who am I?’ or ‘to whom do these thoughts come’ as a method to get you back to your natural state of being-consciousness. But at some point you begin to realize this experience of being-consciousness or the Self to be what you are. And that your attention getting caught up in thoughts is a doing, is an effort. And as it is a doing and an effort, it wastes energy, it is a feeling of contraction and stress.
So then abiding in the Self is not something you are doing, rather you stop the action of leaving the self to get caught up in thinking.
The more you practice this, the more clear this will become. You will see you are consciousness itself, you are peace itself. And to become the personal ‘me’ with all of its desires, worries and resistances is something you do as consciousness. Consciousness contracts into identifying with thoughts to become a person.
And when you recognize this is something you are doing, you can stop doing it. You can relax that knee-jerk reaction to identify with thoughts. You can simply be as you are. You can simply rest in your true self.
The third aspect of his teachings is probably the most important. It has also been lost by most because we did not have the privilege of sitting with Ramana Maharshi in person. If we did, we would have experienced his main teaching, which was grace (Shakti). For he did not often speak much, rather he sat silently transmitting enlightenment to everyone around him.
The teaching was good, it gave people a technique to practice. But it was his transmission of enlightenment through Shakti for which he was best known for at the time.
If you read or watch interviews of those that spent time with him, most of them will not talk about his teachings but rather how they went into deep states of Samadhi just by sitting in his presence. Just by being in his ashram, people experienced profound peace and bliss that directly awakened them to the Self. Self realization happened to many people just by sitting silently with him receiving his Shakti.
In our modern technology, we can receive this same Shakti in new ways. Because of breakthroughs in sound recording, you can now receive Shakti through sound. The subtle vibration of enlightenment gets recorded with special audio equipment and turned into sound and those sounds into music.
So now you can sit at home or on the train or wherever you like, listening to this special Shakti meditation music on your mp3 or CD player and have Shakti transmitted to you, allowing you to experience deep meditation and bliss wherever you are. You can read more information about receiving Shakti through sound and hear samples by visiting the Shaktipat through Sound website.