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Solving Problems The Ramana Way: What Is A Problem?

Life is an enormous puzzle and each day unravels numerous ones to be solved. In the wake of the day one is encountered with hurdles small and big. Problem solving has almost become the mode of one's daily life, be it at home, or at work.

Modern days with giant leaps in the technology front, aimed at making life easier has not been able to quell the problems of life. With spirituality gaining momentum owing to a sedentary lifestyle of modern living, Vichara or Self enquiry of Ramana Maharshi, is well suited in order to experience a gush of relief . One is not burdened with countless rituals to follow, or hours of meditation. Nor does one need to fear of giving up worldly activities and turn to donning the garb of a renunciate. It is but “an all inclusive transcendence," which ushers in peace.

Solving Problems-What is a problem?

The first step in solving problems is to first understand the question, 'What is a problem'?

The inability to materialise a desire is a problem. The object of the desire may be to possess something or someone ('Someone' is considered as an object with the view that he/she should be attained.)

The Nature of problems

Having understood the question, 'What is a problem', one will have to understand the nature of problems while pursuing on 'how to solve problems'

We all experience the same set of problems that invariably individuals undergo generation after generations. All of us undergo health problems, family problems, financial problems etc etc. The pattern in which the problem presents itself may be different, but in nature, all problems are the same.

It is also surprising that the usual way in solving problems, in the bottom line also happens to be the same.

The normal procedure to end a problem is to remove or get rid of the obstacle that stands in the way in realizing the desired object. For example, in a serious problem, like a health issue, the focus is on overcoming it to experience good health. The desire is to gain good health by removing the obstruction of the disease or the ailment.

When a student prepares for his examination, which he will have to pass through, he either studies earnestly to pass through for advancement in his studies or tries to bunk it by not attending it, if studies does not appeal to him. In either ways, it is to get over the situation. To advance in his studies or give up his studies is the aim, while examination in either ways is the hurdle that he will have to overcome.

  • In the course of solving a problem, firstly we have our attention on the desired object.
  • Secondly, the attention is on the object that we find as an obstruction to meet our desired end.

So to sum up, paying attention to objects has been the way for solutions to problems.

Vichara or Self Enquiry, the Ramana way of solving problems.

The term 'Vichara' is to enquire. Self enquiry is to make an enquiry into one's own self. Almost every spiritual practice claims one to surrender. Surrender happens to be one of the most difficult tasks. To enquire into the nature of one's own self enables one to surrender naturally.

Enquiring is but the way we actually deal with problems. When we encounter numerous issues big and small in day to day life, we try to analyse and solve them. Analysing is nothing but enquiring into a problem.

Hence enquiring into the nature of one's own self is but a very natural way of dealing with problems. It is an interesting exercise, with the focus directed onto oneself rather than the object.

The Ramana way of enquiry reveals the fact the absence of problems, by shifting one's attention from the object to the subject, making myself the end or the goal. While practised earnestly it reveals that the problem actually lies in the perception of a problem.

More on the subject of how to solve problems in the forthcoming article, 'Where is the problem?'

To be continued


This article is an attempt to reflect on the teachings of Ramana in a spiritual workshop held by RMCL (Ramana Maharshi Centre For Learning), Bangalore.

Read more about: ramana maharshi self enquiry
Story first published: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 12:45 [IST]
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