Let Us Just Be

I’d like to share with you the beautiful final words with which Michael James’s fine book Happiness and the Art of Being: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of the Spiritual Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana concludes. I do so below the “*.”


This world and everything that we experience in it, including our body and our own individual personality with all its likes and dislikes, appear to exist only because we have risen as this finite object-knowing consciousness that we call our mind. Therefore if our mind subsides and ceases to exist as a separate individual consciousness, everything else will also subside and cease to exist. Hence in the final paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? Sri Ramana concludes by saying:

If [our individual] self rises, everything rises; if [our individual] self subsides [or ceases], everything subsides [or ceases]. To whatever extent we behave humbly, to that extent there is goodness [or virtue]. If [we] are restraining [curbing, subduing, condensing, contracting or reducing our] mind, wherever [we] may be [we] can be [or wherever we may be let us be].

The key word in the second sentence of this paragraph is taṙndu, which I have translated as ‘humbly’, but which is actually the past or perfect participle of taṙ, a verb that has many meanings such as to bow, worship, fall low, be low, be bowed down, become subdued, be suspended, be deep, be engrossed in anything, descend, decline, sink, diminish, decrease, stay, rest, stop, bend, droop or hang down. In this context, therefore, proceeding or behaving taṙndu means conducting ourself humbly in this world, submitting to the will of God, with our mind subsided, subdued, submerged or resting calmly in our own essential self-conscious being.

To the extent that we live our life thus, says Sri Ramana, there is naṉmai – goodness, righteousness, benefit, benefaction, virtue or morality. That is, the relative goodness of any of our actions or of our behaviour in general is determined solely by the extent to which, while acting or behaving, we are truly humble, subdued, desireless, calm, equanimous and resigned to the will of God.

In the final sentence Sri Ramana says that if we are able to be thus, always restraining, curbing, subduing or reducing our mind, ‘wherever [we] may be [we] can be’ or ‘wherever [we] may be let [us] be’. These concluding words, eṅgē-y-irundālum irukkalām, imply that in whatever place or circumstances we may be placed in our life, it is always possible for us just to be. If we always keep our mind subsided in our true and natural state of self-conscious being, no external circumstances can prevent us from remaining thus.

Therefore, since we have no duty or responsibility other than just to be in our own self-conscious and blissful being, and since there is no higher happiness than simply to be thus, summā irukkalām – let us just be.