The Message of Swami Abhishiktananda

Swami Abhishiktananda (Rishikesh, 1972)

Selected Quotations:

“If I am the bearer of a message, as people tell me, then what is this message? You can bear witness only to your own experience. There is only one thing I know, that ‘I am’. This ‘I am’, aham, which bursts out in all creation, in every thing, in every event, natural or historical.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart: The Spiritual Diary (1948-1973) of Swami Abhishiktananda,
Delhi (ISPCK), 1998, p. 221 [August 19, 1959].

“My message has nothing to do with any dharma whatever. That is true for every message from the depth….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart,
op. cit., p. 334 [December 14, 1971].

As an introduction to the Message of one of the most fascinating spiritual figures of our time, selected quotations from Swami Abhishiktananda’s writings are presented here according to certain themes particularly relevant to his vision reflecting his non-dual and interreligious experience. As a matter of fact, these excerpts should not be understood in a linear way, but rather in the context of a deep philosophical and spiritual transformation which occurred during the twenty-five years Swamiji spent in India. Swami Abhishiktananda’s final awakening in 1973, is the ultimate key to understand the depth of his insights and the major stages of his spiritual journey. The list of quotations is subject to further updates.

In the section excerpts from books, large extracts from Swami Abhishiktananda's main books are available.

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Advaita is so overpowering! Disappearance in the One!”

Letter to J. Lemarié (February 10, 1952), in J. Stuart, Swami Abhishiktananda: His Life Told
through his Letters, Delhi (ISPCK), 2000³, p. 53.

“Easter is the great passing over to the pure reality of advaita….

Letter to J. Lemarié (April 24, 1954) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 71.

“Descend into the greatest depth of myself, into the divine Self, the foundation of my own self, and embrace all beings in the non-duality (advaita) of the Real, of Being....” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding: Selected Essays in Hindu-Christian Spirituality (forthcoming publication).

“At the level of thought, nothing can divide Shiva from the linga in which he manifests himself. For this, advaita, non-duality, is the only appropriate word. Not monism, not dualism; but that sheer mystery in which man, without understanding it at all, rediscovers himself in the depth of the heart of God.”

Guru and Disciple: An Encounter with Sri Gnanananda, a Contemporary Spiritual Master, Chennai (Samata Books), 2012, p. 49.

“In the meeting of guru and disciple…we are in the sphere of the original non-duality. Advaita remains for ever incomprehensible to anyone who has not first lived it existentially in his meeting with the guru.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. 15.

“For the man who has direct experience of the Real nothing else remains except the naked uncompounded light of being itself. One day someone asked Sri Ramana Maharshi why Christ taught his disciples to give God the name of father. He answered, ‘why should one not give God a name, so long as God remains for him “another”?’ Once a man has realized the Truth, what room is left for anything like an I or a Thou or a He? Who is left even to whisper: ‘O my god, Thou alone art; I am nothing!’? In the blinding light of this experience there is no conceivable place for any kind of differentiation; there is nothing but a-dvaita, ‘not-two’.”

Saccidananda: A Christian Approach to Advaitic Experience, Delhi (ISPCK), 1997, pp. 63-64.

Advaita is the central teaching of the Upanishads, and no prayer remains possible for him who has realized the truth of the Upanishads. The equivalent of what is called in monotheistic religions the ‘experience of God’ has here nothing to do with any notion of God whatever, for the duality which makes it possible for man to think of himself as standing in front of God has disappeared in the burning encounter with the Real, sat.”

The Further Shore, Delhi (ISPCK), 1997, p. 117.

Aham (I-consciousness, pure inner Self)

“The mahavakya, the great affirmation of the Upanishads, aham brahmasmi [I am the Absolute], ….there is no greater humility, no more complete annihilation of self, of one's myself, than the self-renunciation which is implied by the fervent and sincere utterance of this mantra, this sacred formula.  For it is only when I have once risen up—or dived down—to my true Self, my divine Self, that I have the right to ‘repeat’ aham brahmasmi.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“Whoever utters the aham Brahma asmi in faith and truth signifies thereby that he no longer ‘recognizes’ the superficial ‘I’ in which at one time he had taken such interest, and that he has completely passed over to the unique divine ‘I’; and similarly the Seer, the brahmavid [the knower of the Absolute], the atmavid [the knower of the Self], who reverently and wordlessly repeats in the silence of his heart, plunging into the depths of being and of God, that mysterious aham which henceforth he scarcely dares to pronounce with his lips.

“It seems that henceforth for him there no longer exists anything, whether outside or within, in himself as in other beings, except the unique resonance of the unique aham Brahma asmi, of the unique aham from which come all the words that the Scriptures speak and all the words that people utter, all that is expressed by the voice of nature, the unceasing and manifold sound of its progress through space and time.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“Nothing is left but he who says I AM! …But how to say ‘Him’ [God]? ‘Who’ is there to speak of ‘Him’? Nothing is left but He who says ‘I’, ‘aham’, from eternity to eternity.”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux, (June 28, 1964) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 163.

“This unnerving discovery, every time new, like an awakening, always the same and always new! That what I had projected into a sphere that was divine, eternal, etc…, which I had adored, loved, etc., —is my own mystery: ‘That Person yonder (in the sun)—I am he!’ [yo’savasau purusha so’ham asmi][Isa Up., 17]”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 331 [July 22, 1971].

“While the flow [of sensory and psychic experience] continues endlessly, I myself abide, I am [aham asmi], in an unchanging present. All things pass, change, pantha rhei [Gr., ‘all flows’]; but as for me, I am. What am I? Who am I? There is no answer except the pure awareness that I am, transcending all thought.

I am, and there is no need for me to strive in order to find this ‘I am’. I am not an ‘I’ searching for itself….

“All that a man has to do is simply to allow himself to be grasped by this light which springs up from within, but itself cannot be grasped.”

Saccidananda, op. cit., p.39.

“The absoluteness of the ultimate mystery is discovered in the absoluteness of the self itself, of oneself seen in its full truth. The Self is then seen in the self. In the light of pure consciousness, Being shines with its own light. Then the eternity, the aseity, the absoluteness, the sovereignty of God are no longer notions which man tries desperately to understand by way of analogy or negations. They are realized in their own truth in the discovery that oneself is, beyond all conditioning. Then God is no longer a HE about whom men dare to speak among themselves, nor even only a THOU whose presence man realizes as facing him. Rather, necessarily starting from oneself, God is here discovered and experienced as I, the ‘aham asmi’ of the Upanishads, the ‘ehieh asher ehieh’ [‘I am who I am’] of the Burning Bush [Exodus 3:14].”

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp.128-129.

“When you have discovered this ‘I Am, scorching, devastating, then no longer even [can you say] God is—for who is there to dare to speak of God? (... ) May the devastating joy of this ‘I Am’ fill your soul.”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux (January 29, 1972), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.262.

“We must search for this fundamental ‘I’—but then, an indistinguishable mass of Light, an ocean without horizon, where no one can any more know himself except in saying (hearing?) aham asmi [I am] beyond all duality. And the great Upanishad is this depth of oneself and the recovery of oneself, found in the depth of each being that I meet.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (May 30, 1972), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 269.

“I really believe that the revelation of the AHAM is perhaps the central point of the Upanishads. And that is what gives access to everything; the ‘knowing’ which reveals all the ‘knowings’. God is not known, Jesus is not known, nothing is known, outside this terribly ‘solid’ AHAM that I am.”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda Saraswati (October 21, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.316.

Swami Ajatananda (Marc Chaduc)

“I am now you; or better, I am you here, and you are I there.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (December 6, 1971) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.256.

“You have discovered the mystery of India… the sole and unique mystery which is revealed and burst forth at the heart of everything—that ‘glorious Purusha, of the colour of the dawn, aruna, beyond the darkness’ [Svetasvatara Up., 3.8]…. The door of the guha [the cave of the heart] has been opened to you! You have glimpsed its depths, now enter within, from depth to depth, to ever deeper centres, in a constantly deeper passing beyond of yourself and of God, which has neither beginning nor end, in that mystery which is no more either not-one or not-two [advaita].”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (December 6, 1971) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.259.

“He was really able to receive ‘everything’; his questions were muted after a few days, and at the end of three weeks of solitude-silence on and under the rocks of the Ganga beyond Rishikesh fully opened his guha [the cave of the heart].”

Letter to Sr Sara Grant (December 13, 1971) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.258.

“I have found in him [Marc] a truly total disciple.”

Letter to Odette Baumer-Despeigne (January 7, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 258.

“I need your ‘irreverence’ to help me explode the myth that I have become.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (April 7, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.265.

“There has so far been no one but you to whom I could say everything! It is fantastic, this Light [jyoti], which empties, annihilates, fulfils you; and how true the Upanishads are!”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (May 30, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.265.

“As a westerner, you will be able to express the mystery to westerners—after a very long time of silence!”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (June 20, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.272.

“With him [Marc] I live the guru-chela [master-disciple] dyad with a shattering intensity!”

Letter to J. Lemarié (July 1, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.274.

“He will remain buried away for long years, but I am sure that the day will come when the fruits of his silence will be marvelous.”

Letter to Odette Baumer-Despeigne (July 2, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.302.

“It is really marvellous how [Marc] has taken his call seriously…. Swami Chidananda Ji was especially happy. He told me that he had rarely been as much satisfied after giving [him] sannyasa….”

 Letter to Murray Rogers (July 3, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.302.

"The one who was after me has gone ahead, and I can no longer join him…."

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 383 [July 3, 1973].

“In reclothing you with the kavi [the ochre colour of the sannyasi’s robe], and beholding you reclothed, I discovered that the kavi was not merely a sign, but a mystery, the explosion outwardly of the tejomaya Purusha [the Supreme Self, full of Light], of the depths of Being.”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda (Marc Chaduc), (July 5, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.320.

“You are the only person, as well I know, to whom I have been able to say and to pass on everything, in words and beyond words…. You accepted the ‘tabula rasa’ [the emptying of the mind], and from that tabula rasa the sparks flew. Yes, none of it was ‘mine’ or ‘yours’. But that ‘Greater One’, whom you find lying behind myself and yourself, is not-other-than you and me….”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda (Marc Chaduc), (November 23, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.320.


Arunachala is a symbol
and Arunachala is a Reality,
a high-place of the Dravidian land,
all ruddy, aruna, in the rays of the rising sun,
where is worshipped the linga of fire,
the elemental sign of the Living God,
he who appeared to Moses in the burning bush
and on the summit of Mount Horeb,
Fire that burns and Fire that gives light,
Deus Ignis consumens [“God the consuming Fire”]
Lux mundi [“The Light of the world”]
Paramjyoti [“The supreme Light”]
Phos hilaron [“The joyful Light”]
the joyful light of the immortal glory
of the Blessed One,

For there at the dawn of lime was standing
the column of fire
of which Brahma could not reach the summit
nor could Vishnu find its foot,
symbol as it was of unfathomable Love—
Anbe Shivam
which is the very ground of Being.

Later it took the form of a sapphire;
and then, in the evil times of our kaliyuga,
the Linga of fire became stone
for the blessing of mankind,
the sacred Mountain,
which the Lord set firmly on its foundation
and which is never shaken.

To its caves, age after age, there has come a succession
of those who are hungry for wisdom and renunciation,
whom the Mountain, the divine Magnet,
draws to its bosom,
to teach them in its own silence
the royal path of the supreme Silence,
and how to be established in the Self—
achala, atmanishtha.

From its sides there flow springs
sublimely named—
“The spring of the milk of grace”
“Milk from the breast of the divine Mother”—
where pilgrims come
to bathe and drink.

And finally, from its crest on the great day of Thibam,
when the Sun sinks in the west,
and the full moon of Karttiki
rises above the horizon,
there shoots up the Column of Fire,
which reveals the secret of Light
hidden in the heart of the Mountain!

* * *

From the very Depth of Arunachala's Heart
there sounds a call
to him who speeds towards the Depth
of the Heart of Arunachala;
but he who enters into the Depth
of the Heart of Arunachala,
has lost even his own name
and all that till then he was;
so that henceforth he is only the dweller in the Depth,
the one who lives within the Cave
of the Heart of Arunachala;
he has entered his own Depth,
has been swallowed up in the Self,
having discovered at the deepest centre of himself
the secret of Arunachala.

But for him who at last reaches the Depth
of the Heart of Arunachala,
does there still remain a Depth?
Is there still an Arunachala?
What has become of the Mountain,
rosy-coloured Arunachala?
Where now are the springs
on the sides of Arunachala?
What has happened to the Light,
on the crest of Arunachala?

The caves themselves have vanished,
and with them the hermits of Arunachala;
has not he himself also disappeared,
swallowed up in the Depth
of the Heart of Arunachala,
merged in the Self,
the Unique Arunachala?

The Secret of Arunachala: A Christian Hermit on Shiva’s Holy Mountain,
Delhi (ISPCK), 1997, pp.53-55.

“Let him who does not venture to believe this enter the cave and close the door to all comers; let him strip himself of every covering, whether inward or outward, let him keep silence and recollect himself; let his thirst be slaked with these waters, let him be scorched with this fire; then he will soon understand the secret of Arunachala! So much the worse for him if, as happened to the Maharshi, he is never able to return to this world; for, as the rishis of the Upanishads repeat with nostalgic emphasis—‘from there you never come back, never...’”

The Secret of Arunachala, op. cit., Delhi (ISPCK), 1997, p.58.

“At the summit of Arunachala there is no longer room for any gesture, whether of the body or of the soul. Then, BEING alone is possible, pure being, pure consciousness, pure bliss [sanmatra, cinmatra, anandamatra].”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 70 [March 30, 1953].

“You already know how much I have been marked by my first two stays [in 1952] at Arunachala. The latest as had an even deeper effect on me. Each time I think I have reached the depths; but the deeper I go, the more I discover even deeper spheres within the depth…. It is passing strange that …a temperament so little fitted as mine for the life of a hermit, should have found there [at Arunachala] a fullness never, never experienced anywhere else.”

Letter to J. Lemarié (April 29, 1953) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.61-64.

“But as for myself, like Sri Ramana, it was Arunachala that awakened me. Oh that awakening!”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 354 [May 30, 1972].

Atman / Self

“Plunge into oneself, to the greatest depth of oneself. Forget one’s own I [aham], one's own self. Lose oneself in the aham of the divine Atman which is at the source of my own being, of my consciousness of being. And in this primordial aham…feel all beings to be oneself.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“It is absolutely impossible either to verbalize or to experiment with the experience of the Self. It is an experience of totality, reaching the very ground of being; or, in other words, it is an experience which arises from the very ground of being….”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. xxxix.

“There is no doubt that this experience of the Self is the highest point to which man’s psychological activity can attain. It is the substratum of any genuine mystical experience. It can even be said that in it mystical experience is found in its pure state, no matter what forms it may happen to assume when manifested in the human psyche. At other stages of psychological life the divine mystery is only reached under the veil of concepts and images. But only God in Himself is able to satisfy the deep existential thirst of humanity…. It is only at the centre of our being, in this experience of pure awareness, that we can at least have a glimpse of the central mystery of God in Himself.”

Prayer, Delhi (ISPCK), 2001, p.79

“The discovery of the deepest centre of being and of the Self is a possibility for every human consciousness; and truly it is only in that, precisely in that, that man attains to himself, whatever his milieu may be.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 109

“The place from which there is no return is the centre of yourself, the Atman-Brahman, beyond the whirlpool of signs, even the sign of solitude and silence! This centre is not something you have to reach. You don’t have to make an effort as if to leap into it from where you are now, from this so-called shore where you dream that you are. It just is.  Discover yourself, awake to yourself; or rather, discover that you are awake.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (December 19, 1971) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 260.

“Knowledge of oneself essentially includes the discovery, the realization of the Self as absolute, ‘apart from dharma and non-dharma’ [anyatra dharmat adharmat, K. Up., I.2.14], as the supreme authority, as the centre, the navel of the world [jagannabhi], around which and starting from which everything moves. The discovery of being free to go where I wish [kamacara, Ch. Up., VII.15.2], of not being bound by anything whatever in any of the worlds, of being above the dvandas of birth/death [janma/mrityu], pleasure/pain [sukha/duhkha], etc….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 362 [November 3, 1972].


Satori [enlightenment, awakening] is attained when I have realized that the centre is as truly everywhere as it is in ‘myself’. And God himself is not this centre, for God is without place [a-desa], as he is without time [a-kala]; this God is as really in his lila-s as in himself, if we venture to make the distinction.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 49 [July 15, 1952].

“Realization, enlightenment [buddhatvam], satori, is ‘a’ passing beyond, is ‘the’ passing beyond. Not surrender to another—to the Other—no, not even love for Him. Love that is felt is not total love, it reeks of attachment to self, to the lower self. The love which is beyond all feeling, the peace which is beyond all feeling, the joy which is beyond all feeling. Beyond love, peace, joy.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit.>, p. 49 [July 17, 1952].

“The only thing that matters is to awake! And it is always beyond signs that you awake. For the Awakening is to the unique Reality, below, above, without, within, beyond every word and every thought.”

Letter to Mother Marie-Gilberte (April 6, 1966), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 179.

“To come to God is an awakening, awakening to one's self, awakening to Him. There is no coming to God apart from this awakening. There is no ‘God-for-me’ apart from this awakening. God is not an abstraction which my reason could conceive, and so project. The philosopher's God is not God; it is the furthest that human intelligence can project, since it is incapable of reaching beyond the sphere [loka] of abstraction…. God is only found in an awakening.” [1971]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“[The sage] has realized, and not only imagined or thought, that there is a level of being, of truth, of Self, in which he is beyond the dvandvas [pairs of opposites] of bhayam-abhayam [fear– absence of fear], mrityu-amritam [death - no death], etc…. the level of the Absolute, of the permanent, yet out of reach of mind and sense, which can be gained by no practice whatsoever, either ritualistic or ascetic, by no mental acuteness either. That is, simply—and this can only be realized, not reached or worked out….

“This is really the fundamental nature of man, born with him [sahaja] as Sri Ramana Maharshi often repeated. To that truth, to that truest level of himself man can only wake up. It is like a flash of lightning…. Brahman has passed, and his passage has transformed the whole man, beginning with his innermost depths. Yet this awakening is unknown to the senses and the mind except through a taste, an indefinable taste, which pervades all, whose presence is felt indeed, but of which nothing can be said or thought….The Self itself has been discovered and then, suddenly, man has discovered himself in the world of Brahman.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp. 121-122

“It was a marvellous spiritual experience. The discovery that the AWAKENING has nothing to do with any situation, even so-called life or so-called death. One is awake, and that is all.”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux (August 9, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 308.

“The quest for the Grail is basically nothing else than the quest for the Self. A single quest, that is the meaning of all the myths and symbols. It is yourself that you are seeking through everything. And in this quest you run about everywhere, whereas the Grail is here, close at hand, you only have to open your eyes…There is only the Awakening. All that is ‘notional’—myths and concepts—is only its expression. There is neither heaven nor earth, there is only Purusha [the Supreme Self], which I am…”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 386 [September 11, 1973].

“The awakening is what lies in the depths of what is utterly ordinary!”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda Saraswati (October 20-21, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 317.

“All that matters is the Awakening—and the Awakening is everywhere, so simple.”

Letter to Sr. Thérèse de Jésus (November 5, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 319.


“The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of the Self, the presence of Jesus is the presence of the Self…”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.93 [May 6, 1954].

“Jesus is this mystery of advaita in which I can no longer recognize myself separately. Lost as much in the space [akasha] of the heart as in that of the span of the universe, as much in the Source as in the shining, the radiance that empties me. And I am Fullness, purnam, precisely in this letting-go of myself everywhere….And my purnam is precisely this emptiness of all self.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 336-337 [December 24, 1971].

“The Christian namarupa-s have disappeared….The saving name of Christ is aham asmi [I AM]. And the deep confession of faith is no longer the external ‘Christ is Lord’, but ‘so’ham asmi’ [I am He]. Like Him at once born and not-born….Let us give thanks for everything to this Lord who is in the depth of our being and also face to face with us!”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (June 16, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.272.

“Christ must be free from the Jewish and Hellenistic culture in which we have imprisoned him. And equally we must not immure him in a Hindu culture….Christ is beyond all concepts, even that of the Purusha. All is lila in what is said of the Self.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (January 16, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., pp.283-284.

“All that the Christ said or thought about himself, is true of every man. It is the theologians who—to escape being burnt, the devouring fire—have projected into a divine loka [sphere] the true mystery of the Self…. And Jesus claimed the freedom to be himself—and so earned a gibbet! And sometimes he upset everything violently, and sometimes he observed the Law….”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (February 4, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.287.

“My wish for you is that the ‘awakening’ which began on that day may lead you more and more deeply to the discovery of this ‘I AM’ in which alone you will meet the Christ, no longer in a memory or in beautiful theological ideas, but in His own mystery, which yourself YOU ARE.”

Letter to a friend (July 7, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 305.

“The more I go, the less able I would be to present Christ in a way which could be still considered as ‘Christian’. I can start with ‘Christ’ only if my approach is ‘notional’, by ideas. For Christ is first an ‘idea’ which comes to me from outside. Even more after my ‘beyond life/death’ experience of 14.7 [1973], I can only aim at awakening people to what ‘they are’. Anything about God or the Word in any religion, which is not based on the deep I-experience, is bound to be simply ‘notion’, not existential….

“I am interested in no christo-logy at all….What I discover above all in Christ is ‘I AM’…. It is the ‘I AM’ experience which really matters. Christ is this very mystery ‘that I AM’, and in this experience and existential knowledge all christo-logy has disintegrated…

“If at all I had to give a message, it would be the message of ‘Wake up, arise, remain aware’ of the Katha Upanishad. The coloration might vary according to the audience, but the essential goes beyond. The discovery of Christ’s ‘I AM’ is the ruin of any Christic ‘theology’, for all notions are burnt within the fire of experience….

“I feel too much, more and more, the blazing fire of this ‘I AM’, in which all notions about Christ’s personality, ontology, history, etc., have disappeared….”

Letter to Murray Rogers (September 2, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., pp. 310-311.

“Being there, simply. Sometimes appeals to Christ, to whom I can no longer give any name. Yet I am well aware that he is the most inward mystery, of which the Resurrection has caused all forms to explode. He is now the Keshi, the Ekarishi, the amorous Krishna, the dancing Shiva, the Awakened One.”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda (Marc Chaduc), (October 4, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.314.

“So long as we have not accepted the loss of all concepts, all myths—of Christ, of the Church—nothing can be done! Everything has to spring up anew from the depths, like the Christ who appeared to you the other day at Ranagal….”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda (Marc Chaduc), (October 26, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.318.

Dharma / Religion

“And of these paths (of religions and philosophies), all of which lead towards the goal, only one is able to reach it. The inward path, antarmarga, is independent of all paths, for there is no rite, devotion or dogma that is not transcended when consciousness is deepened within itself.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.104 [July 6, 1955].

“The person who is self-satisfied in the practice of his religion has not yet begun to be religious.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.226 [December 12, 1959].

“Every great dharma in fact takes its rise from the awakening to the Real…

“Every dharma is for its followers the supreme vehicle of the claims of the Absolute. However, behind and beyond the namarupa, the external features such as creed, rite, etc., by which it is recognized and through which it is transmitted, it bears within itself an urgent call to men to pass beyond itself, inasmuch as its essence is to be a sign of the Absolute. In fact, whatever the excellence of any dharma, it remains inevitably at the level of signs; it remains on this side of the Real, not only in its structure and institutional forms, but also in all its attempts to formulate the ineffable Reality, alike in mythical and in conceptual images. The mystery to which it points overflows its limits in every direction. Like the nucleus of an atom, the innermost core of any dharma explodes when the abyss of man’s consciousness is pierced to its depth by the ray of pure awakening. Indeed its true greatness lies precisely in its potentiality of leading beyond itself…In every religion and in every religious experience there is a beyond, and it is precisely this ‘beyond’ that is our goal.

“The call to complete renunciation cuts across all dharma-s and disregards all frontiers. No doubt the call reaches individuals through the particular forms of their own dharma: but it corresponds to a powerful instinct, so deep rooted in the human heart, nihitam guhayam, that it is anterior to every religious formulation. In the end, it is in that call arising from the depths of the human heart that all the great dharma-s really meet each other and discover their innermost truth in that attraction beyond themselves which they all share. This fundamental urge towards the Infinite is altogether beyond the reach of either sense of intellect.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp.26-28.

“All religion is based on faith and aims at deepening that faith, at enabling its light to shine at full strength, until it illuminates every human facility. Contrary to what is too often supposed, faith does not primarily consist in the mind’s acceptance of certain propositions, termed ‘data of revelation’. Faith is essentially that interior sense by which the mind penetrates obscurely into those depths of one’s own being which it realizes are beyond its power to explore solely by means of thought and sense perception. The various ‘revelations’ enshrined in the different religions are simply the reports transmitted to their fellows by men whose inward gaze has pierced as far as those depths—namely, the sages and prophets of history.

“The adherent of any given religion is naturally tempted continually to attribute an absolute value to the conceptual formulas of his own religion, as he does to its structures. However, these forms, whatever they may be, are never more than the expression—or rather, continually changing attempts at the expression—of a reality which is essentially beyond all expressions. These expressions are also essentially limited—whatever may be their value in other respects—by the particular conditions of the period, language and culture of the milieu in which they come to birth.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp. 65-66.

“My message has nothing to do with any dharma whatever. That is true for every message from the depth… Return to the Source and place the human person…face to face with himself, with his own depth. Have him discover that ‘he is’ at a greater depth than any form…. He discovers himself…as Brahman, Sat, Being, beyond all; himself Atman beyond all. He is ‘I’, AHAM! So no more laws, no, no more obligations, no more knots. Pure spontaneity. Pure Spirit. But this freedom must not become another knot….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., pp.334-335 [December 14, 1971].

“We have to descend into the ultimate depths to recognize that there is no common denominator at the level of namarupa [names and forms]. So we should accept namarupa of the most varied kinds…. No comparisons, but we should penetrate to the depth of each one’s mystery, and accept the relativity of all formulations. Take off from each of them, as from a springboard, towards the bottomless ocean….

“Every religion is rooted in a culture, beginning with the most primordial and hidden archetypes which necessarily govern its view of the world. All that is citta [mind, thought] is namarupa. And every namarupa has to be laid bare, so that the satyam [Real] may be unveiled….”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (January 26, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., pp.284-285.

“We realize that on the level of the namarupa no comparison is valid. [Religions are] grandiose dream-worlds. But be careful not to call them dreams from the point of view of a dreamer….The man who is awake marvels at the dream; in it he grasps the symbolism of the mystery. He knows that every detail has its significance. The only mistake is to want to absolutize each symbol. And the difficulty is that no deep ‘drive’ can be expressed without symbols. There is no religion without a culture.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (January 30, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.285.

“One who knows several mental (or religious or spiritual) languages is incapable of absolutizing any formulation whatever—of the Gospel, of the Upanishads, of Buddhism, etc. He can only bear witness to an experience—about which he can only stammer….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.380 [April 30, 1973].

Sri Gnanananda Giri

“… For the first time in my life, I could not resist making the great prostration of our Hindu tradition, and to whom I believe I might give myself over completely…. I now know what India means by the term ‘guru’….”

Letter to J. Lemarié (December 24, 1955), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.87.

“Here for a fortnight with my Guru. I have been totally ‘caught’…. If that man were to ask me tomorrow to set out on the roads naked and silent like Sadashiva Brahman, I would be unable to refuse…. In him I have felt the truth of advaita.”

Letter to J. Lemarié (March 14, 1956), in J. Stuart, op. cit., pp.89-90.

“The life of Sri Gnanananda, just like that of Sri Ramana Maharshi, exhibits no trace of anything extraordinary. No ecstasies, no siddhi-s, no esoteric teaching, no claim to have mission, as is so often in case with so-called guru-s… The path which he teaches is basically of total renunciation, whose final result is that no place is left for the ego to show itself…. His teaching goes directly to the very root of the disciple, to the source of the soul….His teaching is pure Vedanta.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., pp.xliii-xliv.

“As for this man whom he had approached almost as a tourist, Vanya [pseud. for Swami Abhishiktananda] felt that he had virtually taken possession of his very being. He realized that the allegiance which he had never in his life freely yielded to anyone, was now given without a second thought to Sri Gnanananda. He had often heard tell of guru-s, of the unreasoning devotion of their disciples, of the way in which they surrender themselves totally to their guru—which to him, as a European with a mind shaped by Greek culture, seemed utterly senseless. Yet now, all of a sudden, that had become for him simple truth, plain fact, an experience that took him right out of himself.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., pp.12-13.

“For Sri Gnanananda, dhyana, meditation, was the one essential spiritual practice. For him it was the royal road, the only effective way of arriving at the realization of the Presence in one’s own depths. One who truly wishes to attain to that has to sacrifice everything for silent meditation—depending naturally on how far he is free from family or social respon­sibilities.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.75.

“…When he [Vanya, pseud. for Swami Abhishiktananda] came, morning and evening, to pay his respects to the master, and above all when, alone, with him, he listened to his words, he could not help feeling convinced that this man was truly the guru of whom he had for so long dreamed, the one who would enable him to clear the crest, if only he was ready to surrender himself to him with unquestioning faith. It was as if they were communicating with each other at a very deep level. The guru’s words aroused echoes within him as no other man’s words had ever done. It was as if, deep in Vanya’s heart, profound secrets were then coming into view, secrets which seemed to be buried in hitherto undis­covered depths. What the guru said vibrated throughout his whole being and set off overtones which were quite wonderful.

“In addition, Sri Gnanananda’s whole personality radiated a wonderfully pure and tender love, a love which was totally given to each and yet was the same for all. So the joy of feeling oneself loved by him carried with it a high degree of detachment; for we all dream of being loved with a distinct and preferential love. But his love enveloped each one at the same time as if uniquely. You felt that for him all distinction, bheda, was annulled and had vanished. In each disciple it was as if he directly perceived his truest personality, the Self alone, the Atman.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., pp.96-97.

“No one ever struck me like that man did!”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux (April 4, 1966), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.179.


“For God is wholly different from ‘an other’. This is the mystery of the kevala, the absolute aloneness, the absolute solitude and unity of God, the mystery of the Parama-Brahman… the mystery of the Brahman who is Supreme and essentially beyond, the One of whom the human being can no longer say anything but OM neti...neti, ‘not this, not this’.

“God is the One who is at the heart of all, at the source of all, at the source of the very utterance of the ‘Thou’ which I say to Him. So long as you have not entered into that source within yourself from which otherness itself is born, you are only fondling external idols which you have made in your own likeness;

so long as you have not discovered at the centre of yourself the source of yourself,              
in the source of yourself, the Self in its source,
the source in yourself of being in its source.

“The paramount task of a human being is to enter within and there to meet with himself. If anyone has never met himself, has he ever met God?  And if anyone has never met God, has he ever met himself?  We do not meet ourselves independently of God, and independently of oneself, we do not meet God.

“So long as you have not met yourself in your inner nakedness, which is far more complete than outward nakedness, you live in the world of your imagination, of your own construction, in the world projected outwardly by your own mind. ‘Yourself, the world and God’ is the dream that you have of them, and not what they really are, the true Reality.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“The human being has to resign himself to keeping silence before God, to no longer speaking to Him, no longer praying to Him, no longer adoring Him; only then will his worship and his prayer be pure. God is pure kevala. Only silence praises Him, the silence which is no longer even a gaze, but the supreme shunyata, the ‘essential Void’.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“The living God is only really encountered in the depth of oneself, in recollection in the depth of self, the depth of one’s own life, in the depth of that by which we—every ‘I’—is alive….The mystery of the living God is no other than the mystery of the Atman.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., pp.92-93 [May 6, 1954].

“You can no more think God than you can think yourself. To think yourself is to lose yourself, it is to mistake a reflex and artificial picture for yourself.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.101 [June 5, 1955].

“Man’s definitive meeting with God is birth beyond death. No one can see God without dying to self. No more can he attain to his own self in its supreme and final truth without dying, and therefore without being reborn—in the very realm of God.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.47.

“God is at once the object of vision and the mystery of non-vision. But in reality, He is not attained either by our seeing or by our not seeing, either by our acting or by our ceasing to act. God is the beyond.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.50.

“This is the essential mystery of the world, of all that my senses experience, of all that my mind con­ceives—my own mystery, in that which in me is most inward and most personal, that which is unmanifested and cannot be manifested of myself and of all things, that which is beyond the reach of my awareness, and yet which is awareness itself at its very source.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.51.

“Could anyone who has truly met God still speak of God?”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.232 [February 7, 1960].

“If God is hidden, it is because He is in Himself beyond all that we can perceive, even with our minds. If this were not so, He would simply be one of the possible objects that can be known, just like everything else in the universe, as indeed He was regarded by the Greek philosophers. This was equally unacceptable to Jewish and Hindu thought alike. God ‘does not in any sense belong to the world of objects among which man orients himself through thought.’”

Prayer, op. cit., pp.17-18.

“…To realize the mystery of God in the deepest recesses of our heart, beyond all thought, all imagination, beyond every possible manifestation of His glory. God is indeed present in every one of His signs, and yet He remains for ever beyond all signs, beyond everything through which He manifests His Presence, beyond everything in the mental or material world….Everything through which God reveals Himself to us is a summons to go further, to go beyond.”

Prayer, op. cit., pp.50-51.

“All that we know or think we know of God is false. There is only one thing to know of God—and that transcends the understanding, it takes place at the sources of being—namely, that this knowledge is a total commitment. It is in the abandonment of reliance on yourself that you know God, existentially. That is faith and brahmavidya [the knowledge of Brahman].”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.300 [July 9, 1968].

“God's presence to the human being is not an external presence, but a presence to the deepest level of his being, to the very source of that being—a source which is non-temporal but ontological, and which underlies that being as from its deepest centre—thus it is a presence from which one's very being is inseparable, so completely does it penetrate that being in itself and also in all its activities.” [1971]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.


“India is there where you find the Lord of the innermost depth the Lord of the Guha [Cave]. And the cave is the deepest centre of your heart and the deepest centre of the Father’s heart.”

Letter to Mother Marie-Gilberte (February 10, 1965), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 169.

“India also, ever since the first beginnings of thought on spiritual matters, has given much attention to the mystery of the heart, the ‘cave’ within, the guha as it is called in the Upanishads. This guha is essentially a hidden, secret place beyond the reach of sense or thought. It is the ‘abode of Brahman’, the very place of the Atman, our deepest and truest self. From it comes the primordial impulse which is the source of everything, both in the macrocosm of the universe and in the microcosm of the human person. In it is the Life, from which have come all the particular manifestations of life in mankind and in the universe…. In it shines the essential Light, whose brightness illuminates all that is seen.”

Prayer, op. cit., pp.101-102.

“The hub of the wheel is the one thing to reach, the motionless depth of yourself. That alone is the true guha, that alone gives to the guha of rock the marvellous solitude which it radiates like a mirror.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (December 19, 1971), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.260.

“In the depth of the inner cave [guha], there is no name and equally no non-name, neither Shiva nor Jesus.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.336 [December 24, 1971].


“Beyond the experience of things and places, of watching or participat­ing in worship, of reading or meditating on the Scriptures, of listening to lectures, there is the experience of meeting those in whose hearts the Invisible has been disclosed, and through whom the glory shines in all its brightness—which is the mystery of the guru.

“The honourable title of ‘guru’ is unfortunately too often debased by being used inappropriately, if not sacrilegiously. No one should utter this word, let alone call someone his guru, if he himself does not yet have the heart and soul of a disciple.

“It is in fact as unusual to meet a real disciple as it is to meet a real guru. Hindu tradition is right in saying that, when the disciple is ready, the guru spontaneously appears, and only those who are not yet worthy of it spend their time in running after guru-s. Guru and disciple form a dyad, a pair, whose two components call for each other and belong together. No more than the two poles of a magnet can they exist without being related to each other. On the way towards unity they are a dyad. In the ultimate realization they are a non-dual reciprocity.

“The guru is certainly not any kind of teacher, not a professor, nor a preacher, nor an ordinary spiritual guide or director of souls, one who has learnt from books or perhaps from someone else that which he in turn passes on to others. The guru is one who in the first place has himself attained to the Real and who knows by personal experience the path that leads there; one who is capable of giving the disciple the essential introduction to this path, and causing the immediate and ineffable experience, which he himself has, to spring up directly from and in the disciple’s heart—the lucid and transparent awareness that he is.

“We may say that the mystery of the guru is actually the mystery of the spirit’s own depth. To come face to face with the guru is to come face to face with the Self at that level of oneself that is at once real and most hidden.

“The meeting with the guru is the essential meeting, the decisive turning point in a person’s life. But it is a meeting that can only happen when once you have passed beyond the spheres of sense and intellect. Its place lies beyond, in the ‘fine point of the soul’, as the mystics say.

“In human encounters duality is still left intact. At their best we may say that a fusion takes place and that the two become one in love and desire; but in the meeting of guru and disciple there is not even a fusion, for we are in the sphere of the original non-duality. Advaita remains for ever incomprehensible to anyone who has not first lived it existentially in his meeting with the guru.

“That which the guru says springs up from the very heart of the disciple. It is not someone else who is speaking to him. He is not receiving in his mind thoughts which have come from elsewhere and have been transmitted by sensible means. When the vibrations of the master’s voice reach the disciple’s ear and the master’s eyes look deep into his own, then it is from within his own self, from the cave of his own heart, now at last discovered, that the thoughts proceed which reveal him to himself.

“It therefore matters little what words the guru uses. Their whole power lies in the inward echoes which they cause. In seeing or hearing the guru, the disciple attains to the revelation of his own self, taking place at that deep level of himself for which everyone is essentially seeking, even if unconsciously.

“The real guru is within us. Without the sound of words, he causes the attentive spirit to hear the ‘That thou art’, tat tvam asi, of the Vedic rishis; and this real guru projects himself in some outward form or other at the very moment when his help is needed for taking the final step. It was in this sense that Sri Ramana’s guru was Arunachala.

“…The meeting with the guru in the deepest centre of the soul is what here we call darshana…. The darshana of the guru is the final step towards the ultimate darshana, in which the last veil is lifted and all duality transcended. That is the essential darshana which India has pursued since the beginning….”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., pp.14-17.

“Many times Vanya [pseud. for Swami Abhishiktananda] questioned Sri Gnanananda about the role of the guru. But his replies always referred only to the definitive Guru, the one who appears at the moment of the darshan of Atman, of the Guru who is the very light which shines from Atman when it is finally discovered. ‘The Guru is akhanda, indivisible. He is advaita, non-dual. It is only this Guru that can make you take the plunge; he appears and is manifested only at the moment when you do plunge. The other kind is the guru-murti, the guru in a visible form, the one who can only show the way.’

“…The Self is only visible to the Self, and the true Guru is only ‘yourself within your own Self.’”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.97

“The only real guru is the one who directs attention to the heart; the only real disciple is the one who listens within. This applies all the more rigorously when guru and disciple do not belong to the same spiritual tradition. Until and unless one aims at the essentials alone, one will very likely be put off by the forms and will consequently miss the message of the Spirit….”

Saccidananda: A Christian Approach to Advaitic Experience,
Delhi (ISPCK), 1997, p.29.

“The unique role of the spiritual master is to awaken his pupil to ‘Aham asmi’, I am. ‘Tat tvam asi’, You are That.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p.126.


“Has India then been marked out in the designs of the Most High to be for ever in the world the irreplaceable witness of the mystery of the kevala, of the Absolute, of the Beyond [atita]—of all understanding of what is beyond all manifestation, of the avyakta?...

“What interests India is that which underlies the manifestation, that which the manifestation manifests, that to which the manifestation leads, because itself it originates from it. It is the avyakta, the Unmanifested, that has always fascinated India. It is towards the avyakta that its Rishis have directed their search with their always unsatisfied neti neti….

“India's own way is transcendence and the transcendence of transcendence, the search for Brahman, the insatiable pursuit of Being….

“India will only allow itself to be reached by one who penetrates to his own interior, and never by one who is content to study it in books or externally. And India will only reveal its marvellous secrets to one who has renounced outward distractions and has determined to concentrate himself within.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“India received from God the marvellous gift of sensing the mystery of being, of the Absolute, of God, in the depth of things, in the depth of living creatures, in the depth of the human heart. Every movement of matter, every throb of life, every impulse of thought, beyond and before all the differences perceived by sense or mind, was first of all the sign of being in itself, a sign so perfect that in it alone its meaning, its being was perceived.” [Late 1950’s ]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“The real message of India… is concerned with setting mankind free from the ‘knots of the heart’, from that false iden­tification which causes us to confuse with our real self one or other of the forms in which our personality manifests itself at the mental or social level. India’s contribution to the world is first of all that it enables us to lay hold of the profound and ineffable mystery of our own being, the mystery of the ‘unique and non-dual’ Self, which even so is revealed in the multiplicity of conscious beings.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.xxxvi.

“The darshana of the guru is….the essential darshana which India has pursued since the beginning—in which also India reveals her own secret and ‘in revealing herself to you, reveals to you your own most hidden depths’.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.17.

“In fact, there is probably nowhere else in the world where the mystery of the Presence has been felt as intensely as it has been in India since the remotest Vedic times—as that as a supremely active presence, the whole sphere of the divine shakti, which somewhat resembles the shekinah of Jewish tradition.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.42.

“The essential thing in India—how much I feel it here!—is not to preach, run schools, put up buildings, etc., but to radiate the deep experience of the Lord within.”

Letter to Mother Françoise-Thérèse (March 23, 1961), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.136.

“When you have discovered this ‘I am’, scorching, devastating, then no longer even (can you say) ‘God is’—for who is there to dare to speak of God? This is the great grace of India, which makes us discover the ‘I am’ at the heart of the Gospel. May the devastating joy of this ‘I am’ fill your soul!”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux, (January 29, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.262.


“For the jnani there is only one reality in this world of maya, in this world of created being, and that is the slow and irresistible movement of beings towards the Self, towards the Real [satyam], towards the Sat-cit-ananda, their slow entry within….

“Whoever has awoken to the Self, can never thereafter see anything else but the Self. The jnani sees the Self in all beings, in every being. That is the ultimate meaning of nirmamo nirahamkara [no ‘mine’, no ‘I’]. And that is essential for sannyasa. A sadhana [spiritual practice] that did not aim at that would not be genuine.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“In truth, the one who has realized the Atman is in every place and every time. He is the young Sri Ramana running away to Arunachala, and he is the priest who gave him food on his way. He is the hermit meditating in the forest in the time of the raja-s, and he is the sannyasi who met Avvaiyar. He is Yajnavalkya who revealed to king Janaka the Upanishad of Being, and he is the rishi who in the first age heard the Vedas. Indeed, he is Lord Shiva himself, seated under the banyan in the jungle, wearing his tiger skin and with his third eye annihilating Kama, Love the Tempter, who sought to divert his attention—Shiva who on another day, as Dakshinamurti, taught through his silence the four sons of Brahma in their ignorance of the highest wisdom. He is the Formless, the Unborn, who in every form reveals something of himself and in every birth appears afresh.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. 32.

“The jnani is one who has penetrated to the source of his being and has realised in the hidden centre of himself the mystery of God in his self-revelation. He alone in truth is in possession of himself and he alone can truly give himself; he alone can love completely. Nothing can ever give itself out, unless it is distinct, separate. God’s transcendence is the very source of his immanence, ‘transcendence’ and ‘immanence’ being in the end only two human words which endeavour to indicate that the Supreme is at once beyond and within, that Being is at the same time rupa and arupa, Form and Formless.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.52.

“…The personality… has lost nothing essential in attaining to the Absolute….The jnani marvellously reflects in himself, as in a mirror that nothing any longer can dull, the very mystery of Being, the mystery of himself, the mystery of God; and the Spirit, now given free play, realizes through him in the world the secret works known to him alone.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.97.

“I would like a jnani, a real advaitin, to tell you this (not merely in theory, philosophically)….The words of the real advaitin, like those of the rishis of the Upanishads, are simply paradoxes, to awaken. Not to instruct.”

Letter to Robert Vachon (February 27, 1970), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.226.

“For the wise man, who has discovered his true Self, there is no longer either forest or town, clothes or nakedness, doing or not-doing. He has the freedom of the Spirit, and through him the Spirit works as he wills in this world, using equally his silence and his speech, his solitude and his presence in society. Having passed beyond his ‘own’ self, his ‘own’ life, his ‘own’ being and doing, he finds bliss and peace in the Self alone, the only real Self, the Parama-Atman.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p.16.

“Whoever talks about jivanmukti [final liberation while living], about realization, etc…. shows that he has not understood anything at all. Whoever expects an ‘experience’, so that he can say that he is ‘realized’, knows nothing about anything. There is nothing to be renounced, nothing to be released from….”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (April 23, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 296.


“Among the solutions given by human wisdom, Shankara's theory of maya seems in the end to be the only one that provides some satisfaction to the mind.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

Maya is not simply illusion; maya is no more a matter of not-being than it is of being. There is a truth in the sphere of maya, a reality in the sphere of maya, which is genuine as long as we remain in the world of maya, as long as we have not passed beyond the level of manifestation. The world of maya is itself a ‘sacramental’ world; it is through maya, in its aspect of shakti—of deifying power, of divine grace—that we rise up to the level of what is real, to the world of essential truth, the satya-loka.” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“Philosophers came who wanted to fix this primordial experience [of Presence, Being] in concepts. To speak of the manifestation of Being at the level of becoming, they suggested the idea of maya which their followers lost no time in debasing into a theory of illusion. To speak of illusion in the ordinary sense of the word, just as to speak of non-Being, means putting forward an alternative to Being. In truth there is only Being, in all its fullness, in the manifold forms in which it appears to mankind, mankind which itself is already an appearance of Being….. As far as the most minute and most external details of this manifestation, it is only Being which appears and shines out. There is not Being and not-Being, there is not more Being here and less Being there. There is only Being in its unbreakable unity, just as it was contemplated by the great Parmenides at the dawn of Greek thought before Plato directed the Mediterranean genius on the way of the eidos [concept].” [Late 1950’s ]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“This ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ which alternate in the language of prayer, are they in the end real or not? Neither sat [real] nor asat [unreal]! But the word ‘illusion’, maya, is misleading…. ‘Appearance’ would be better, provided you realize that it is the Real… which thus makes its appearance. An appearance which is not other than the Real.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (April 12, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.294.

“The greatest ‘high-places’ are never more than ‘loka-s’. And every day we let ourselves be caught in the maya [deception] of loka-s. We need these heavy blows to be constantly rained on our skulls to bring us to reality.”

Letter to Swami Ajatananda Saraswati (October 5, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.314.


Dhyana alone matters,” replied Sri Gnanananda. “Everything else, whatever it may be—tapas, solitude, vigils, fasts, non-possession—is secondary, and has no direct connection with realization. The only thing that counts is to free yourself from everything that prevents you from devoting yourself exclusively and completely to this silent interior meditation. Even sannyasa itself is not essential.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.77.

“The place from which breathing comes, [explained Sri Gnanananda] is in fact identical with the place from which thoughts come. The impor­tant thing is to hold yourself in this place which is the source of your being, and to keep careful watch to see that its silence and purity are never contaminated, and that you never allow yourself to be diverted or drawn away from it. Then when thoughts make their appearance—as they never cease to do—, in order to avoid being carried away by them, you only have to follow each one to its source, plunging into the very heart of the wave which is taking you to the shore, to find who is thinking this, for that is the fundamental thought at the source of all thought. In this way you come back to the place of your origin, the place in which all place has disappeared, the Self in which all self (ego) has vanished. Concentration on breathing helps towards interiorization. When you follow your breath as it returns to its source, you are also returning to your own source….”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.78.

Dhyana is the one thing necessary, [said Sri Gnanananda] and it is absolutely essential. Puja, japa, ritual, litanies and the rest, they all fall within the sphere of externals, they belong to the world of appearances and have nothing to do with the Real. To be attached to them and delight in them, to practice them assiduously with the idea that they are an effective way of coming to spiritual realization is a fundamental mistake, which will prevent the sadhaka from reaching his goal. Their only value is for beginners, for those who have not yet heard the call of what is within….”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.82.

“Only dhyana matters [replied Sri Gnanananda]. When once the call of what is within, the call of the Real, has made itself heard, every possible moment should be kept for the practice of meditation. Only when you are firmly estab­lished within is it safe for you to come back into daily contact with the world.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.83.

“Always penetrate deeper and deeper within, [replied the guru] until nothing more is left except pure awareness without any ‘memory’ of yourself. Then the light will shine, the Atman will appear. The idea of yourself will be no more than a shadow….”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.114.

“He [Sri Gnanananda] would like me to devote my whole time in future to meditation without thoughts, leaving aside not only all distractions and all useless conversation, but even all reading. He promises me that the experience will soon come if I act thus.”

Letter to J. Lemarié (March 14, 1956), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.90.

“An advaitin as genuine as Sri Gnanananda insists on the meditation of silence, the recollection of the mind in the guha, the ‘cave’ in the depth of the heart, provided that it is never for a moment forgotten that all that is merely an aid which helps to calm the waves and eddies of the mind. The coin is there under the water, but the waves must first be calmed and the mud suspended in the water must first settle before the coin can be seen. At the moment of illumination the guru himself disappears. In reality meditation (dhyana), as well as the guru, are only the forms, the imperfect and transitory reflections, through which the knowledge, the vidya, is manifested, so long as the mind is not yet ready for the flash…. [October 1970]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“In modern times Sri Ramana Maharshi has spoken with justifiable irony about the excessive importance accorded by many to meditation. There is no question that meditation, at least when it is practiced with a view to interior silence, can be a peculiarly effective means of quietening the mind. However in itself it can only bear fruit at the level at which it is practiced, namely, the psychological. If, as the Upanishad says, the level (loka) of the Atman is not one peculiar to itself, but rather underlies all the levels of being, then it can be found at whatever level one may start from. But when one attempts to tie it down to one particular level—even to that of the non-mental and the supersensory—then one has simply mistaken a substitute, or one of its images, for the Atman itself.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p.71.

“Meditation helps towards concentration and the quietening of the mind and leads to that interior silence, without which nothing can be achieved. Yet meditation and silence should never be confused with the end itself, which is equally beyond both silence and non-silence.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p.111.

Dhyana [meditation] is not a means. For there is no means—neither meditation nor rite nor gnosis nor guru nor scripture.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (April 23, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.296.


“In the sphere of what can be heard, the sign of God’s ineffability is the pranava (OM), the inarticulate vowel ‘O’ (AU), the flattening of the primary vowel ‘A’—expressing at once the holy fear and the ecstatic joy prompted by entry into the mystery—which comes to an end in an indeterminate nasal after-sound. This is the OM, the final sound through which an attempt is made still to say something about God, once all the words and ideas conceived by the human mind have been discarded, before entering the definitive silence in which nothing more is said, apart from the eternal OM which no creature left to himself could ever hear.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.46.

“In all things the only reality is the Atman [said Sri Gnanananda]…. All that is seen is seen in its light. All that is heard is heard in the pranava, the OM, which is the name of the Atman.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.115.

“The OM which our Rishis heard resounding in their souls,
when they descended to the greatest depths in themselves,
deeper than their thoughts and deeper than all their desires,
in the existential solitude of Being.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.189 [December 1, 1956].

“The Ganges is roaring quite close to me here. It sings a ground bass which sets the key for everything. And in its harmonics all that can be sung is sung. Above all the OM, which has hardly left me since my retreat at Gangotri last year.”

Letter to J. Lemarié (July 24, 1965) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.172-173.

“[OM]… stands for the ineffable and unsearchable nature of the abyss of the divine Being….

“The OM, which human lips utter and human ears can hear, comes from the OM which cannot be perceived or uttered, and is drawn back to it by a natural momentum….

“OM is the primordial word uttered by God in creating. OM is vak, the eternal Word. OM is the beginning of God’s self-manifestation. OM is at the origin of the universe. OM is also at that centre of the soul from which arises the awareness of being oneself. All the possible sounds that our lips could utter, all the words which will ever be derived from them in the languages of mankind, are already contained in this primordial OM, the shabda-Brahman, Brahman in form of sound, as it is called. From it indeed words receive the power to convey meaning. OM is the first sound that is heard by anyone, when God emerges from His eternal silence….

“OM stands for God unmanifested, for that in God which is utterly beyond manifestation, beyond every sign and everything that could be expressed… and yet it is that very goal towards which our spirits are irresistibly drawn, when once at the deepest centre of our being we have sensed its mystery.

“The mantra OM has come down to us from the earliest Vedic times. It accompanied—and strictly should always accompany—the recitation and chanting of the sacred texts….

“With the deepening of our experience, OM appears as reflecting the… manifestation of being in the world of becoming, as echoing the heart-beats of the universe which are measured by time. OM is the awakening of the individual to the mystery of his own heart, to that mystery which is hidden in each movement of the natural world, revealing at every minute point of space and time its divine origin and end. OM is the word which, being at the very horizon of meaning, gives its full truth to everything. OM, for anyone who is awake in God, expresses the fullness of his communion with the universe, and also the communion of each person with every other person who thinks, desires and loves. Blending with the rhythm of the human body and soul, with the beating of the heart, with breathing and thought, and likewise with the rhythm of the cosmos, with the most minute vibrations of atoms as of living cells, and equally with that of the orbiting stars, OM calls each being to attain its fullness, and indeed to discover it in the simplest act and the most fleeting moment….”

Prayer, op. cit., pp.110-115.

 “Now very often the only prayer that goes to my heart is the OM….”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux (October 2, 1968), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.206.

“Everything explodes when you have reached the fourth matra [the a-matra or ultimate silence, Pure Consciousness] of the OM.”

Letter to Raimon Panikkar (June 25, 1973), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 301.

Sri Ramana Maharshi

“Even before my mind was able to recognize the fact, and still less to express it, the invisible halo of this Sage had been perceived by something in me deeper than any words…. In the Sage of Arunachala of our own time I discerned the unique Sage of the eternal India, the unbroken succession of her sages, her ascetics, her seers; it was as if the very soul of India penetrated to the very depths of my own soul and held mysterious communion with it. It was a call which pierced through everything, tore it apart and opened a mighty abyss.”

The Secret of Arunachala, op. cit., p.9.

“[Swami Abhishiktananda] had indeed gazed into those eyes [of Sri Ramana Maharshi] which… were so full of love and deep peace. He had sensed something of that call to the within, which seemed to sound from the very depth of that man’s awareness, now merged in the primordial mystery. It was surely that call which so often brought him back to the foot of the blessed mountain, to live in those same caves in which Sri Ramana had, as it were, been swallowed up by Arunachala, the implacable.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p.14.

“I had the grace of meeting Sri Ramana and Sri Gnanananda …. And it was truly at their feet that I learnt something from the Upanishads.”

Letter to Odette Baumer-Despeigne (August 24, 1969), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.218.

“Sri Ramana Maharshi's ‘method’ of realization is similar to that of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. He warns against meditation in the fundamental search for the ‘I’, the Self, because that risks plunging the one who meditates still deeper into his ‘ego’ as a meditator.” [October 1970]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“The ideal which is most profoundly mine—the one to which unconsciously everything in me is referred—is that of Sri Ramana—such a perfect example of Vedanta—and this ideal of Sri Ramana would not have been able to root itself at such a depth in my psyche if it had not encountered a call already expressed,… an ‘awakening’.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p.328 [July 2, 1971].

“It was above all through silence that Sri Ramana used to share with worthy disciples his experience and spiritual insight, as he himself often used to riind people. The knowledge of the Self, the brahmavidya or atmavidya of the Upanishads, is indeed too profound to be transmitted by such inadequate means as words and concepts.”

Saccidananda, op. cit., p.27.

“The way that the Maharshi recommended…  consists in trying to find out at every instant, in every act, who in truth it is that lives, thinks and acts, and in being attentive to the see-er in the act of seeing, to the hearer in the act of hearing, and so forth. It is a matter of constantly, relentlessly pursuing this consciousness of oneself which hides behind the phenomena and the events of the psychic life, of discovering it, seizing it in its original purity before anything else has covered it over.…”

Saccidananda, op. cit., p.34.

“Sri Ramana Maharshi never persuaded anyone to leave the world and withdraw into solitude or into an ashram. He held that if anyone felt called to such a life, he should be free to obey; but he insisted that this has nothing to do with perfection or with the normal development of the spiritual life. He did not even recommend people to practise meditation. He simply advised his disciples to practise Self-inquiry [Atma vichara] while occupied with their daily tasks, even the most commonplace.”

Saccidananda, op. cit., p.153.

“When Sri Ramana ‘returned’ from his experience—this ‘return’ was only figurative, since in reality he never returned from it, nor does anyone who has truly had this experience—, everywhere he looked in the world, he saw nothing but the reality of Being, indivisible, limitless, a-khanda, an-anta. Everywhere he heard the OM, the aham, the essential unique ‘I’.”

Saccidananda, op. cit., p.196.

“The spark only flashes forth in a complete vacuum. As Sri Ramana Maharshi never tired of saying, the state of illumination, of awakening, is man’s natural state (sahaja). What impedes the flash is that the spirit [mind] is clogged with all kinds of desires and mental conceptions—a truth which the Buddha pressed upon mankind with unequalled force.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p.71.

Sannyasa, monasticism, renunciation

“Now sannyasa is no longer a thought, a ‘concept’, but an ‘inborn summons’, a ‘basic need’; the only state that suits the depth into which I have entered, that reveals it, realizes it.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 70 [March 30, 1953].

“All that matters in monastic life is the help it affords for entering within. All the rest … is simply maya!”

Letter to J. Lemarié (April 29, 1953) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.64.

“For advaitin sannyasa, which is without any doubt from now on my grace and my ‘inner call’, is free from all rites, all faith, etc. None the less it is attached in space and time to the Hindu religious edifice as its summit; and in so far as videhamukti [liberation outside the body, i.e. after death] has not yet been attained, it is only there that advaitin sannyasa is connected with the earth…. Authentic sannyasa is to Hinduism like its flower.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., pp. 80-81 [December 6, 1953].

“The monk, or the sannyasi, who still thinks, ‘I am a sannyasi’, is not a true sannyasi. He may have to say this to suit the point of view of those with whom he is speaking, in order to make them understand that he is no longer one of them and no longer has a share with them in the things of this world. It is the same with his clothing, which is not so much for his own sake as it is for others, to show that he is separate in society, or more accurately, separate from society…. When alone by himself the monk cannot any longer think ‘I am this, I am that, I am a renouncer’….

“Only those who lose their life will save it; only those who have denied themselves will find themselves.

“The monk has passed beyond ‘I’ and ‘mine’. He has plunged into the only One who can say ‘I’…. And from that essential ‘I’ in which his own ‘I’ has its origin, and from that essential Self in which his own self has its origin, in which he has descended into himself and been swallowed up, there will never be for him a return….” [1953-1954]

A Journey to Ultimate Understanding, op. cit.

“If to be born as a man… is already an incomparable blessing, how much greater still must be this ‘sacrament’ [i.e. sannyasa] which, by cutting every bond, is the direct way of attaining moksha, the supreme liberation, the fulfilment and at the same time the end of all births.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. 109.

“The monk acts within, from what is within, through what is within. He does not ‘exert an influence’ by his physical presence to other people, but by his presence, within, to God. His ministry is silence and solitude, maunam ekantam….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 223 [November 18, 1959].

“The monk has no desire, no attachment. He does not seek after any pleasure. The image of the highest sannyasi who eats whatever comes his way… he receives in total indifference all the successive events and conditions of his existence in the body…. He does not desire any perfection, above all he does not desire… ‘realization’ in order to obtain fame among other people. He gives himself without counting the cost, quite simply in all circumstances, he is totally given. No desire for thoughts, for beautiful ideas, no desire to show himself, or in himself to show God….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 246 [November 5, 1962].

“The essential rule of the sannyasi is to be totally free from desire. Or rather, he has but one desire, the desire for God alone.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 5.

“For the wise man, who has discovered his true Self, there is no longer either forest or town, clothes or nakedness, doing or not-doing. He has the freedom of the Spirit, and through him the Spirit works as he wills in this world, using equally his silence and his speech, his solitude and his presence in society. Having passed beyond his ‘own’ self, his ‘own’ life, his ‘own’ being and doing, he finds bliss and peace in the Self alone, the only real Self, the Parama-Atman. This is the true ideal of the sannyasi.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 16.

Sannyasa is beyond all dharma ….The sannyasi is indeed the witness to the world of that final state in which man recovers, or rather, wakes up to, his own true nature (svarupa, svabhava). In that awakening he realizes himself as a-ja (unborn), sprung from nowhere and going nowhere, as a-nimitta (purposeless), as svarat, absolutely autonomous, and kamacara, free to move in every loka, every plane, both literal and symbolic. His I can no longer be in opposition to any other I— ‘No one is different from or other than myself’ [Na. Pa. Up., 4.38]. His awakened I, piercing like a laser beam, now lights up to its very depths the I that is uttered by any conscious being ….The sannyasi is the sthitaprajna, the man with stabilized mind of the Bhagavad-Gita (2.54), the a-kama, the man free from all desire [Br. Up., IV.4.6], the one who is free from all ritual obligations, from all dharma, as is said in the Katha Upanishad (2.14):

Other than dharma and adharma,
other than what is done and not-done (krita and a-krita),
other than what has been and what will be….

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 19.

Sannyasa is the recognition of that which is beyond all signs; and paradoxically, it is itself the sign of what for ever lies beyond all possibility of being adequately expressed by rites, creeds or institutions.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 27.

“The call to complete renunciation cuts across all dharma-s and disregards all frontiers… It is therefore perfectly natural that monks of every dharma should recognize each other as brothers across the frontiers of their respective dharma-s. This follows from that very transcendence of all signs to which all of them bear witness. There is indeed a ‘monastic order’ which is universal and includes them all—not of course any kind of ‘order’ that might seek to ‘organize’ them, for this would simply destroy the essential charisma of the monastic life, which is to be an unquenchable desire for the Absolute. It is enough that they should thus recognise each other whenever they happen to meet, and in fact those who are genuine do infallibly respond to each other. Despite all differences inobservance, language and cultural background, they perceive in each other’s eyes that depth which the One Spirit has opened in their own hearts. They sense the bliss, the light, the ineffable peace which emanate from it; and when they embrace each other, as they so often spontaneously do, it is a sign that they have felt and recognised their innate ‘non-duality’, for in truth in the sphere of the ajata, the unborn, there is no ‘otherness’.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 28.

Sannyasa is an inner experience—just that. The sannyasi is the man whom the Spirit has made ‘alone’, ekaki.” Any attipt to group sannyasi-s together, so that they may be counted or included in a special class, is a denial of what sannyasa really is. The sannyasi is unique… beyond any kind of otherness; he is ekarishi [the unique rishi], since ‘no one is different from or other than myself’ [Na. Pa. Up., 4.38]. The sannyasi has no place, no loka. His only loka is the atmaloka, but this is both a-loka (without loka) and sarva-loka (in all loka-s). He cannot enter into dvandva (duality) with anything whatever—so, if there is a class of sannyasi-s, it is all up with sannyasa!”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 35.

“At the beginning of his diksha the one who is taking sannyasa repeats this mantra: ‘OM bhur bhuvah svah samnyastam maya’—‘All the worlds are renounced by me.’ But so long as there remains a ‘by me’ (maya) in the one who is renouncing the world, he has not yet renounced anything at all! The maya (I, me) is annihilated, blown to pieces, when the renunciation is genuine; and the only genuine renunciation is a total one, that is, when the renouncer is himself included in the renunciation. Then ‘maya’ is wiped out, renunciation is wiped out, and so is the renouncer. Then…the truth of advaita shines out, needing no words, names or expressions, being beyond all expression.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 36.

“Always [the sannyasi] will remember that his essential obligation is to silence, solitude, meditation (dhyana), and this he can never abandon….In the end his truest sign of what he is will be his essential freedom and his refusal to be dependent on anything or to seek security in anything whatever outside himself.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 59.

Sannyasa is an extremely demanding ideal, and that is too often forgotten under cover of preferring the spirit to the letter. It no longer leaves room for any desire for the self, for any self-seeking. The abhayam [absence of fear], extended to all creatures, goes infinitely further than not killing a fly, as soon as you think of its application to men in all circumstances, in every meeting. To insist on solitude, on non-relatedness, on avoiding friendship, runs the risk of being negative. To refuse the total gift of yourself to others means refusing to be yourself. It is in giving that you become yourself…. But a self-giving that does not alienate the self.”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (April 4, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 291.

Sannyasa finds its ultimate ‘reason’ in the non-duality [advaita] of the light which springs up in the depth of being, the very place where every true sannyasi, whoever he may be, is caught and given….”

Letter to Marc Chaduc (April 8, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 293.

“The real monks are these Ekarasananda [‘Bliss of the single flavour’—this was the name of a sadhu] of the present moment.”

Letter to Raimon Panikkar (June 25, 1973) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 300.

Silence and Solitude

“Only in solitude does anyone enter the heart of monastic life, because only there he enters ‘within’, and monastic life is essentially a life ‘within’.”

Letter to J. Lemarié (April 29, 1953) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.62.

“Once the silence has been seriously ac­cepted, it is valued and loved for its own sake. It is as if each day of silence was drawing you ever further and further from all familiar ways; just as when a ship draws away from the land, the coast disappears beyond the horizon, and finally is left so far behind that henceforth it seems no more than a forgotten dream. When the mind is freed from those external reminders with which it is assaulted in every moment of its ordinary life, it meditates on itself, on the one thing necessary, and gains a clarity and transparency which otherwise is scarcely conceivable. Silence is like fasting and solitude; one has to adopt it seriously, burning one’s boats, cheerfully and without looking back. It is the same with the great inner silence, of which the former is only a sign, or at best the outer court, of the abstinence from all thought, of the indescribable solitude of the Alone, deep within. Anyone who takes it up reluctantly, or even simply with reservations and fears, will never experience the boundless peace which it brings. Its flavour, like that of pure water, or air which is so purified that it has no discernable odour, is reserved for him alone who has given everything and is free from everything, in the first place from himself.”

The Secret of Arunachala, op. cit., p. 30.

“The only means of authentic spiritual communication is the atmabhasha, the language of the Atman, the interior speech which is uttered in the silence from which the Word emerged, and which is only heard in the silence.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. 16.

“For one who has entered this solitude there is no more any ‘without’ or ‘within’, but only Being.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. 51.

“Living alone with oneself, not with one’s books, not with one’s thoughts, not with one’s daydreams, not with the emanations of one’s subconscious, but alone with oneself, in the nakedness, ‘as it were’, of one’s spiritual substance.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 184 [November 29, 1956].

“Alone with God. That means alone with the Self. Dare to be willing to face God in a direct meeting with the Self.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 185 [November 30, 1956].

“The total solitude of being [of aham asmi, ‘I am’]. For all that is desired, sought, attained is a human work, a human thought—done by one who-is-not-that-which-is…. [There is] nothing more to desire or ask for, nothing to regret, nothing to get, nothing to abandon. The kevala [‘alone’, the ‘aloneness of the Alone’, the Absolute]….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., pp. 202-203 [April 8, 1957].

“The solitary is all alone face to face with himself, all alone face to face with God in the depth of himself, but with a God who draws him beyond all signs, all forms of manifestation, all symbols, all images, all concepts; and in the last resort, there is nothing in which he could ‘embrace’ this God, or touch Him, or see Him…. So it is a solitude in which nothing answers the call, or rather in which no response to the call is heard…. Nothing any longer exists but the kevala, the totally blank page in the Ten Pictures of Zen.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., pp. 246-247 [November 13, 1962].

“Now I am alone, and am keeping total silence… apart from signs when absolutely essential. I have not brought a single book with me. A complete fast of mind, while praying inwardly together with my brother sadhu-s, slowly murmuring the OM which says everything. Not allowing myself to locate God anywhere outside me, but recognizing that within as well as without there is only He alone.”

Letter to Sr Marie-Thérèse Le Saux (June 28, 1964), in J. Stuart, op. cit., p.162.

“You do not go into solitude in order to find God. You go to the desert because there is nothing else but God, and God makes Himself solitary. If in the desert there were still God and myself, then it would not be the desert. In the desert I have lost myself, and I am no longer able to find my way back to myself. And in the desert I have lost the God that I was seeking, and I can no longer find any trace either of Him or of myself. God is not in the desert. The desert is the very mystery of God which has no limits, and nothing either to measure Him or to locate Him, and nothing to measure myself and locate myself in Him, in relation to Him.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 277 [February 6, 1965].

“The call to silence from the very silence of God….”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 293 [February 12, 1967].

“[I should] accept the indescribable solitude of God, not manifested [avyakta], without a name [anama], without sign [alakshana], and not fill my solitude with the thought of this solitude.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 323 [November 18, 1970].

“…The solitude of one who has found God, for there is no longer any God to be with: God is only with Himself and one who has found God exists only in the Self. It is the Self that he finds everywhere, in God, in his fellow human beings…. And to discover oneself everywhere, what a draining out of oneself it is, what an emptying, kenosis. Everything is taken away from me. Supreme solitude, which is supreme emptiness, for how can the one who is Alone still define himself; no coordinates left by which to situate himself.”

Ascent to the Depth of the Heart, op. cit., p. 333 [December 11, 1971].

“When a man has realized the mystery of Brahman… then in what can his prayer still consist, except for pure silence in his experience of fullness, and the OM which only emerges out of this inner silence in order to draw the mind back into it again?”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 10.

“Silence in prayer, silence in thanksgiving, prayer and adoration, silence in meditation, silence inside and outside as the most essential preparation for this stillness of the soul in which alone the Spirit can work at his pleasure…. Such silence however is not a self-imposed silence, but a silence, we can say, which is imposed by the Self, the Spirit.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp. 129-130.

“…Alone with the self, at the source of its being,
alone with the Absolute,
alone in the aloneness of the Alone,
in the kevala, the solitude that has no name,
there where the spirit issues from the hands of its Creator,
and outside Him, yet still in Him, awakes to the Being
which Alone He IS.” [1956]

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp. 137.


“You are busy searching in every direction, [said Sri Gnanananda] —this religion, that religion, this master, that master. Stop making such a mess of your life. Confine yourself to the teaching of our rishis in the Upanishads. To them truly Reality was revealed. It is all there. Useless to go elsewhere.”

Guru and Disciple, op. cit., p. 103.

“Vedic wisdom fathomed the mystery of the Self and of being and discovered the upanishad, or inner correspondence, between Atman and Brahman which it regards as being ultimate:

‘All this is verily Brahman.
This Atman, this Self, is Brahman’ [Mandukya Up. 2].”

Saccidananda, op. cit., pp. 95-96.

“The Upanishads form part of the religious and spiritual heritage of mankind. They are a sacred book. One cannot approach them in the same way as one does a profane text, or even a work of high philosophy. The Upanishads belong with the other great scriptures of the world, for example, the Bible, the Quran or the Avesta.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 65.

“The Upanishads in fact do not consist primarily of revealed truths which can be transmitted through the medium of concepts and words, even if one has to admit that all passing on of experience has to be done, at least in the early stages, in this way. The Upanishadic seer is much less the man who ‘knows this or that’, than the man who ‘knows thus [evam]’, as the Upanishads constantly reiterate, calling him evamvid. It is like a new way of knowing, a new way of looking at things, at the world, a new illumination which makes one perceive everything quite differently. It is essentially a matter of passing on an experience of oneself, which does not convey any new information, so to speak, but which is much more an awakening to an unsuspected depth in oneself, an awakening to oneself, to things, to the mystery which, when projected, is called God. It is an experience, a discovery which according to Indian tradition goes back to the awakening and enlightenment of the early rishis who lived in the forests on the banks of the Indus and at the foot of the Himalayas. He alone can pass on this experience who has known it himself, who has been awakened within, the evamvid, he who knows thus.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 68.

“The words of Scripture in fact are in themselves never more than signs. That which is not created can never be reached by anything created, as the Upanishad continually asserts. It cannot be seen by the eye, uttered by the voice, or conceived by the mind [Katha Up., II.3.12]. The words of the Upanishads can be thought of as a kind of coagulation—somewhat as a gas is liquefied so that it can be handled more easily—, as the reduction to words and concepts, all of them relative to a particular culture and linguistic system, of an experience that defies all formulation…. One can never lay too much emphasis on the fact that this experience springs from the deepest level of being. The call of the Upanishad is one which comes from beyond space and time.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 69.

“The Upanishadic experience has nothing to do with any religion whatever, and still less is it a matter of mere logic or epistemology. It is of a different order altogether. It is the ultimate awakening of the human spirit, with which religions are now being confronted….”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 108.

“The Upanishadic teaching is a secret and no secret can be communicated just by words…. [It] can be imparted only in the intimacy of the guru-disciple relationship….”

The Further Shore, op. cit., pp. 117-118.

“This Upanishadic experience indeed, though it avoids the notion of the name of God, draws man nearer to the divine mystery than any experience of God which depends on names, forms, notions, images and symbols.”

The Further Shore, op. cit., p. 128.

“The truth of the Upanishad is the awakening to the purusha that I am! ... I now know [vedaham] that the Upanishad is true, satyam.”

Letter to Odette Baumer-Despeigne (May 28, 1972) in J. Stuart, op. cit., p. 268.