Shri (or Sri) Ramakant Maharaj (b. July 8, 1941; d. Aug. 31, 2018), a sage (jnani) of nondual spiritual awakening, has his extensive teachings available in a beautiful book first released in April 2015, edited by Ann Shaw, entitled Selfless Self - Talks with Shri Ramakant Maharaj. Ann invited me to write the Foreword to the very large 1st edition of this enlightening tome; though in the smaller 2nd edition this and other material were cut. Here below is that original Foreword, provided as the best way to introduce that book at my website...
For more information on Shri Ramakant Maharaj and ordering information for the latest edition of the book, you can visit website
by timothy conway
It is a delight to be invited by editor Ann Shaw to write this foreword to Selfless Self, a book of forceful teachings and “helpful hammerings” from Sri Ramakant Maharaj, who, as a family man living in India, was able to spend 19 years (beginning in 1962) in physical proximity to our eminent sagely mentor, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj [1896-1981].
Sri Ramakant for over a decade at his Ranjit Ashram in Nashik (and for years before that) has been speaking from direct Knowledge of our intrinsic, infinite Truth-Nature to spiritual aspirants from India and abroad. The author of this Foreword, who for decades has also been freely sharing about our real identity as formless Awareness-Isness-Aliveness after his own decisive encounters with Sri Nisargadatta in early 1981, is very happy to hear authentic words of Freedom ringing forth from Ramakant Maharaj, an elder, steadfast guru-bhai (brother disciple) of the venerable sage Nisargadatta.
Let us contemplate the fact that all these personal consciousnesses
are but inert instruments of the Supra-personal Absolute,
the stupendous spiritual Reality doing everything and being everyone,
the Divine Identity immediately right HERE (closer than close)
and always right NOW (before any arising concepts about THIS)
as the Unborn, Unformed Self of all selves.
As Sri Nisargadatta vividly taught,
without this formless, shapeless, colorless, yet all-accomplishing Vital Power,
no persons could “live, move or have their being,”
no one could sense, perceive, feel, breathe or function in any way,
no one could lift a finger or comprehend the words on this page.
Yes, a single, awesome Siva-Self miraculously manifests all selves in this spontaneous Sakti-play of universal consciousness, as the brilliant young sage Jnanesvar (Jnanadeva) poetically stated in his Marathi verses over seven centuries ago, verses that have been chanted and sung all over western India, including the daily bhajan (devotional singing) sessions around Sri Nisargadatta and the line of teachers before and after him.
The Grace-full Power of this Self has ordained
that some “inert instruments” appear within this Divine Dream
as “helpful friends” (kalyana mitra, in the Buddha’s words)
who share the absolute Knowing-by-Being,
the supremely saving Knowledge
the Knowledge first revealed to humanity in India’s most ancient Vedanta Aranyakas and Upanishads,
the Knowledge that awakens seemingly asleep dreamers to our ever-Awake Awareness,
the Knowledge that liberates apparent prisoners to our ever-Free Reality.
Sri Ramakant Maharaj is one such very, very helpful and friendly instrument for sharing the awakening Knowledge.
Predictably, the nondual Reality expresses Truth through him with somewhat different wording when compared to our teacher Sri Nisargadatta’s way of speaking. Likewise, each of them differ in their manner of parlance compared to Nisargadatta’s teacher Sri Siddharamesvar Maharaj, and compared to other teachers in this nondual wisdom way of sharing Truth, such as Sri Ranjit Maharaj of the same lineal family, as well as illustrious nondual sages like Ramana Maharshi, Narayana Guru, Anandamayi Ma, Anasuya Devi, and numerous other luminaries past and present, ancient and contemporary, both within India and from other traditions of nondual spirituality.
All these external gurus are speaking solely of the One Inner Guru, the invisible Inner Master and your most intimate Reality—the Self. Thus, the essential Truth-teaching is the same, always addressing Who We Really ARE… the changeless Host for all coming-and-going “guests” or fleeting, transitory phenomena.
This Host-Self is not to be seen, sensed or imagined as an object. Spiritual aspirants fall into terrible frustration and confusion when attempting to do so, when trying to make a visionary experience, a phenomenal state, or some kind of “it” out of their own open, unborn, spiritual Identity. As sage Jnanesvar clarified centuries ago, just as a fingertip need not try to touch itself in order to function perfectly well as a finger, just as the eyeball need not try to see itself to function as an eye, so also our Self is not to be reified or “thing-ified” as an it-object. The Self is the Subject of all subjects and is our immediate Reality, not distant or remote in any way. This was a point frequently made by Sri Nisargadatta and it is a point that is “hammered home” over and over by Sri Ramakant. So the Self is not to be “known” as an object, but rather this awakening to Self-Nature is a profound Knowing-by-Being. We simply ARE the Self, and “Self-Realization” is simply, steadily abiding as THIS.
Sri Nisargadatta was also emphatic that a mature, balanced spirituality involved a kind of “two-step” or “two mode” process. First there must be a complete “receding back” and utter dis-identifying or detaching from the personal consciousness, the “i amness” or beingness and its selfish entanglements, to awaken as open, formless Awareness. And the second step or mode is a spontaneous, unselfish re-identifying with the entire universal play of beings and activities through a profoundly empathetic compassion and blissful joy.
These two steps or modes comprise the consummately balanced “wisdom that finds I am nobody and love that finds I am everybody,” as Nisargadatta would sometimes say. Along this line, he frequently emphasized that the acme of mature spirituality is not vegetating away in some cave or cell, nor is it going around posturing as a spiritual celebrity trying to recruit disciples—no, the summit of spirituality is “returning to one’s family and community and serving everyone with great zest and zeal, in clarity and charity,” selflessly shining as the Self of all selves.
To reiterate the first step emphasized by Sri Nisargadatta: it is the perfecting of the clear-light wisdom that evaporates all delusions, attachments and aversions and allows the profound awakening or shift in identity from you to YOU, the “prior to beingness” Reality. This is the utterly dis-identified, transcendent Truth or Absolute Awareness prior to all personality.
This Reality is boundlessly infinite, timelessly eternal,
without change, structure, parts, taints, birth or death,
weightless, wordless, world-less and non-relational
for this Reality is singular, prior to all, transcending everything
as the “No-thing-like” Source of all things, beings, states and worlds.
In the second step or “return mode” of mature spirituality, this formless, Supra-personal Reality is realized as the Heart of each and every person. This Life of all lives animates each individual “viewpoint” for the sake of creative expression of Divine virtues through a personal identity/instrument.
And so the stellar sages, like our master Sri Nisargadatta, are inviting listeners to wake up from selfish enmeshment with mere phenomena, to realize that all phenomena are “just a dream”…. Yet by the Grace of the omnipresent Self the sages are graciously, lovingly one with everyone they meet. They do not see anyone as a mere object, a mere “it, out there” for “my (selfish) gaze”-- for we all exist in and as this Self-same Reality. In short, the truly wise ones don’t harbor the dualistic attitude of “hey, you” but honor everyone in Namaste salutation as “Hi, I,” for there is only the Self. Established as the non-relational Self, sages are simultaneously, freely available for relating with great caring and kindness.
Thus our sageliness, while clearly knowing that all experiences and encounters are “just a dream,” does not fall into an alienated, zombie-like depersonalization syndrome, but can in sublime exultation realize “what an amazing dream,” wherein everyone encountered is OneSelf, a divine dream that surely only our almighty Divine Nature could be dreaming.
In the present book, Sri Ramakant Maharaj tirelessly, compassionately and wisely presents, in very simple yet forceful language, a clear WAKE UP invitation. It may seem that more emphasis is given in these pages to what Nisargadatta termed the “dis-identification” step than to the “re-identification” mode. Yet this is because without the first step of real detachment there simply is no authentic freedom to selflessly be the Self of all selves. In other words, without genuine transcendence, one cannot dwell as the all-pervading Heart of everyone and everything.
There is more to be clarified about the basic paradox of spiritual instruction: sometimes the sagely message is addressed to you, the personal consciousness, yet at other times the truth-talk is addressed to YOU, the Supra-personal Absolute, the Source of all this dramatic show.
When the message is directed to “you,” Ramakant Maharaj gives various pragmatic instructions to be tremendously earnest, to be dedicated and concentrated upon our true Reality, to be detached from the foolish body-identification, yet to diligently carry out the functions and duties of daily living while engaged in ongoing self-inquiry, meditation, mantra, and bhajan (inwardly or outwardly, depending on the situation). In this way, Maharaj upholds the ancient “triple-method” wisdom-way: aspirants are to hear, ponder and thoroughly absorb the Divine Truth. Thereby illusions are removed and the aspirants become increasingly mature in the living of this Truth in all situations of difficulty or ease, pain or pleasure. At this basic level of instruction, Ramakant is inviting aspirants to let the Power of Reality manifest great efforts and energies in realizing our True Nature.
But often the message from Maharaj in these pages is an “absolute-truth” (paramarthika satya) revelation of YOU, the innate Divine Nature, the “Infinite, Invisible, Anonymous Identity” as he terms THIS which is before/beyond all personal effort or psycho-spiritual process. Such direct, intuitive language reveals our “prior to beingness” Being, our unconditional, spontaneous Isness that requires no willful efforts or “doing” of any kind, only the most thorough, unshakeable, clear Conviction.
In an era when it is far too easy to glibly speak ancient nondual truisms such as “there is only the Self,” “we are all one,” “no efforts are necessary for Realization,” “nothing is really happening,” and so on, it is most auspicious that Sri Ramakant Maharaj is showing and sharing in the Direct Way (the pathless path from here to HERE) how authentic awakening is one’s essential life-task and Divine purpose in associating with this illusory body of birth, growth, decay and death.
One hears in these pages from Ramakant Maharaj the wise emphasis upon and actual demonstration of real humility, integrity, sincerity, dedication, establishment in Truth, and gratitude for the great opportunity to live from Truth-Knowledge.
Such teachings bear the stamp of complete authenticity and the power to awaken aspirants to innate Awareness.
May all confusions give way to Self-shining clarity.
May all complications yield to wholesome / holy simplicity.
May all hatreds and hurts be healed in Divine love.
All praise to this Divine Self, the One Reality transcending all beings yet animating all beings
—as their very Source, Substance, Refuge and Destiny.
Jai Guru Jai!
Santa Barbara, California USA
Here are just several golden nuggets from Sri Ramakant Maharaj for aspirants to realize their native Truth (and note that capital, boldfaced letters were used by the editors in the actual book format):
Though you may know “I am not the body,” that Knowledge needs to turn into Conviction. People say “I am not the body, I am Brahman, I am Atman, I am Paramatman, I am God.” It is very easy to say, but this Knowledge has to be real, established, totally established. (ch. 11)
I AM NOT EXPECTING ANYTHING FROM YOU. I AM ASKING YOU TO GIVE COMPLETE DEVOTION TO YOURSELF. (ch. 16)
Your Invisible Presence has exceptional importance which you are ignoring…. Serious involvement is necessary with your meditation practice, and then all questions will be solved within yourself. Your Inner Master is very powerful…. THE POWER IN YOU IS THE SAME AS THE POWER BEHIND MY TALKING. Bodies are different, Spirit is One. (ch. 10)
THERE IS NO BONDAGE. YOU ARE ALREADY FREE. PEOPLE SAY THEY WANT SALVATION. THIS IS A CONCEPT. YOU ARE FREE. Conviction has to be there: firm, strong, solid, immovable. (ch 55)
So many people claim to have spiritual knowledge. They will say “I am not the body,” I am Brahman, I am Atman,” BUT when something unexpected happens, like an accident or illness, or suffering at the end of life, then all these Truths just vanish. And then they are dying, trembling, “Ooh, Ooh,” with fear. By then, it is too late to do anything. THIS MEANS THAT THE CONVICTION THAT “YOU ARE NOT THE BODY” DID NOT GO VERY DEEP. IT WAS NOT ESTABLISHED, AND THEREFORE IT WAS NOT A REALITY, NOT REAL CONVICTION…. Self-Knowledge has to be pragmatic, so that when the time comes to leave the body, you will be strong, courageous and fearless. There must not be any body-attachment left. You are not the body, you were not the body, you will not remain the body. Open fact! (ch. 59)
After Conviction, there will be Absolute Peace, Complete Peace. You will be totally free in yourself. Then you will see: MY PRESENCE IS EVERYWHERE. MY PRESENCE IS IN EVERY BEING. Be simple and humble! Beware of any disturbance from the mind, ego, intellect, with such thoughts as “Soon, I will be self-realized,” or “I am an enlightened person.” Beware of difficulties that threaten to pull you back into illusion. (ch. 21)
You can use the mind, ego and intellect, as and when they are required, but don’t become a victim or slave of the mind, ego and intellect…. They are instruments for knowledge. They are not Ultimate Truth. They are to be used as and when required, and then forgotten. (ch. 58)
Don't live just like a beggar, learn something, do something with your life. Blindly following spirituality is meaningless, “Oh, I am a spiritual man, how can I work?” For living, you need to work. If you just sit down and say, “I am Brahman,” what is the use of that? Who will feed you if you have no money? This is not the way. Live a practical life, but at the same time, just know yourself in a real sense. (ch. 28)
View your problems as a test of your spiritual life. Bring that Knowledge into practice. Don’t give undue importance to problems which come and go just like clouds. Unbearable things become bearable with established Truth. (ch. 61)
YOU ARE ULTIMATE TRUTH, YOU ARE FINAL TRUTH. THE BODY IS NOT YOUR IDENTITY. (ch. 56)
YOU ARE THINKING THAT YOU ARE SOMEBODY. YOU ARE NOBODY, AND YET, YOU ARE EVERYBODY. (ch. 20)
YOU ARE THE WORSHIP. YOU ARE THE WORSHIPPER. YOU ARE THE WORSHIPPED. You are everything! You are Master and you are disciple. You are God and you are devotee. (ch. 175)
I have shown you your Ultimate Reality, Final Truth. Now you KNOW your Identity. Keep up the practice and devotion. Remember that devotion is the perfection of Self-Knowledge. Go now, leave your [selfish] mind, ego, intellect behind. Continue absorbing. Be quiet and happy. The following phrase contains the gist of all the teachings. Keep it near: EXCEPT YOUR SELFLESS SELF, THERE IS NO GOD, NO BRAHMAN, NO ATMAN, NO PARAMATMAN, NO MASTER. (ch. 177)