How I Found My Way to Ramana: By Gabriele Ebert
First to give a short introduction of me: I am living in Germany and I am a librarian in a school library. Besides that, I am working on a biography in the German language about Sri Ramana, which isn’t yet finished and is meant for publishing. This work helps me a lot to gain more insight into Sri Ramana’s life and teaching – and is also a form of meditation and surrender.
Spiritual search was there since I can remember. I grew up in a Catholic environment and tried very hard to find the solution of life in this world of Christian ideas and belief. Yes, I even studied Catholic theology, and after that lived for some months in an austere contemplative Carmelitan monastery, to try if such a way of meditation and restriction could be a way to find what I was looking for. When I look back at this monastery I can do it only with deep respect for this way of life and the people living there. But nevertheless the world behind the wall was also the world and could not fully convince me and satisfy my longing. I found a lot of hints, of course, especially in the Christian mystics, such as Master Eckhart and others.
Then I stepped into Zen. I joined a Zen-group and went to lots of Zen sesshins and was the disciple of a Zen-master, who worked with koans. At the time I started working with koans with my Zen-master, now more than ten years ago, I found Paul Brunton’s book: “A Search in Secret India” in a library. When I read the chapters about Ramana and saw his photo, I felt drawn to him immediately. The question “Who am I?” in self-enquiry I found very near to koan-praxis. But there was also another aspect: I never met one whom I could fully trust, to whom I could possibly fully surrender one day, but Ramana. I found in him what is called a Sat-Guru. I studied his life and teaching and as often as I turned round and round the whole “thing” it was always right. His life and teaching was the same. It was and forever is the truth. So one day I discovered that I had found my real master now and there was nothing to do but to follow his teachings and surrender to him, until “Gabriele” is no more.
Sri Ramana’s teaching is centered on the one question “Who am I?”. The outgoing mind has to turn back to its own source, where it comes from and which is the eternal Self, that which remains after everything is gone. The question is meant to be asked not in the outside direction but within. This is something we are not used to do, we have forgotten, because from childhood onwards we are told to turn outside and to ask in that direction. But the answer to our deep question about our own reality can only be answered from our own reality itself and the answer is that, what is called self-realization. “Who am I?” is meant to search the source of the I-thought, which is the Self. The I-thought is the root of all thoughts. No other thought would be possible without that first thought. If thoughts occur one follows them back to their origin: Who is thinking? It is “I”. First we have to regain the awareness of this permanent I-feeling anew. This leads to the question: But from where does that feeling “I” arise? – this is no intellectual exercise – but following back to the very origin, from where everything arises: first the I-thought, then body-consciousness, and with that the world and the others and our concepts of god ….
The way back is death. One has to die . This is nothing else than real and full surrender: giving up everything. Sri Ramana told us, that when this happens something new takes hold of us, one is born anew as That. This was his own experience.
One day about two years ago I decided to write a biography about Sri Ramana in German language – not only because there is nothing up to date available in our language, but also because I saw in this work a chance for myself to dive deep into Sri Ramana’s life. His teaching and his life are one and the same, that was what I discovered more and more. His life was the most powerful expression of his teaching. He “died” when he was seventeen – when he had his death-experience and awakened to the real life. But Sri Ramana’s deepest teaching was not given in words but in silence. He was and is the Master of silent teaching. And in fact it was that silence, which is what gave and gives me full conviction. His silence can be experienced today as formerly – not only at the place where he lived – but everywhere. Until now I have had no chance to visit Ramanashram in South-India, but his presence and guidance is there for all who are attracted to him. There is no escape.
Gabriele Ebert lives in Germany and works as a librarian.
Recent Books by Gabriele Ebert are:
Ramana Maharshi: Sein Leben, Stuttgart, 2003
Sadhu Arunachala: Erinnerungen eines Sadhus, Berlin, 2004 (German transl.)
Both books are available at amazon.de and can be ordered from each German book-shop.