This post highlights the best Ramana Maharshi quotes on the doer, free will, and God’s will.
Premium members also have access to the companion post: 🔒 How to Practice Self-Enquiry with “Be As You Are” by Ramana Maharshi (+ Infographic)
- Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi edited by David Godman (Book Summary)
- The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words edited by Arthur Osborne
- Who am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (Book Summary)
- All content in “quotation marks” is directly from the original author.
- All content is organized into my own themes.
- Emphasis has been added in bold for readability/skimmability.
15+ Ramana Maharshi Quotes on The Doer, Free Will, & God’s Will
1. “He who thinks he is the doer is also the sufferer … Find out who is the doer and the Self is revealed.”
2. “Free will exists together with the individuality. As long as the individuality lasts, so long is there free will.”
3. “Complete surrender does imply that you should have no desire of your own, that God’s will alone is your will and you have no will of your own.”
4. “By whatever path you go, you will have to lose yourself in the one. Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage ‘Thou art all’ and ‘Thy will be done’.”
5. “The radio sings and speaks, but if you open it you will find no one inside. Similarly, my existence is like the space; though this body speaks like the radio, there is no one inside as a doer.”
6. “As long as a man is the doer he also reaps the fruits of his deeds, but as soon as he realises the Self through enquiry as to who the doer is, his sense of being the doer falls away … This is the state of eternal liberation.”
7. “If you have surrendered, it means that you must accept the will of God and not make a grievance of what may not happen to please you. Things may turn out differently from what they appear. Distress often leads people to faith in God.”
8. “The fact is that any amount of action can be performed, and performed quite well, by the jnani, without his identifying himself with it in any way or ever imagining that he is the doer. Some power acts through his body and uses his body to get the work done.”
9. “Find out to whom free will or destiny matters. Find out where they come from, and abide in their source. If you do this, both of them are transcended. That is the only purpose of discussing these questions. To whom do these questions arise? Find out and be at peace.”
10. “Whose will is it? So long as there is the sense of doership, there is the sense of enjoyment and of individual will. But if this sense is lost through the practice of vichara, the divine will will act and guide the course of events. Fate is overcome by jnana, Self-knowledge, which is beyond will and fate.”
11. “When you seek to reduce the suffering of any fellow man or fellow creature, whether your efforts succeed or not, you are yourself evolving spiritually especially if such service is rendered disinterestedly, not with the egotistic feeling ‘I am doing this’, but in the spirit ‘God is making me the channel of this service; he is the doer and I am the instrument’.”
12. “They pray to God and finish with: ‘Thy will be done’. If His will be done, why do they pray at all? It is true that the Divine will prevails at all times and under all circumstances. Individuals cannot act of their own accord. Recognise the force of the Divine will and keep quiet. Everyone is looked after by God. He created all. You are only one among two thousand millions. When He looks after so many, will He omit you? Even common sense dictates that one should accept His will.”
13. “Through devotion he develops until he comes to feel that God alone exists, and that he himself does not count. He comes to a stage when he says, ‘Not I but Thou; not my will, but Thine’. When that stage is reached, which is called complete surrender in bhakti marga, one finds that effacement of the ego is the attainment of the Self. We need not quarrel whether there are two entities or more or only one. Even according to dualists and according to bhakti marga, complete surrender is necessary. Do that first and then see for yourself whether the one Self alone exists or whether there are two or more.”
14. “There are only two ways to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realising one’s helplessness and saying all the time, ‘Not I but thou, O Lord’, giving up all sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete so long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love of God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of liberation.”
15. “Surrender once and for all and be done with the desire. So long as the sense of being the doer remains, desire does also. Therefore the ego remains. But once this goes the Self shines forth in its purity. The sense of being the doer is the bondage, not the actions themselves. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Here, stillness is total surrender without a vestige of individuality. Stillness will prevail and there will be no agitation of the mind. Agitation of mind is the cause of desire, of the sense of being the doer, of personality. If that is stopped, there is quiet. In this sense, ‘knowing’ means ‘being’. It is not relative knowledge involving the triads of knower, knowledge and known.”
16. “The present difficulty is that man thinks he is the doer. But it is a mistake. It is the higher power which does everything and man is only a tool. If he accepts that position he is free from troubles, otherwise he courts them. Take, for instance, the sculpted figure at the base of a gopuram (temple tower), which is made to appear as if it is bearing the burden of the tower on its shoulder. Its posture and look are a picture of great strain which gives the impression that it is bearing the weight of the tower. But think. The tower is built on the earth and it rests on its foundations. The figure is a part of the tower, but it is made to look as if it is bearing the weight of the tower. Is it not funny? So also is the man who takes on himself the sense of doing.”
17. “Self-enquiry is a different method from the meditation ‘I am Siva’ or ‘I am He.’ I rather lay stress on Self-knowledge, because you are first concerned with yourself before you proceed to know the world and its Lord. The ‘I am He’ or ‘I am Brahman’ meditation is more or less mental but the quest for the Self of which I speak is a direct method and is superior to the other. For, as soon as you undertake the quest and begin to go deeper and deeper, the real Self is waiting there to receive you and then whatever is done is done by something else and you have no hand in it. In this process all doubts are automatically given up just as one who sleeps forgets all his cares for the time being. Although the scriptures proclaim ‘Thou art That,’ it is only a sign of weakness to meditate ‘I am That, not this,’ because you are eternally That. What has to be done is to investigate what one really is and remain That.”
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