Introduction: Sri Sadhu Om gives a brief overview of the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana
In the first chapter, Sri Sadhu Om explains that happiness is the natural and legitimate goal of all sentient beings, but that the means by which we all seek to obtain happiness are wrong.
In the second chapter, Sri Sadhu Om explains that happiness is our real nature, and that the transient happiness that we seem to derive from external experiences actually arises only from within ourself, and is experienced by us due to the temporary calming of our mind that occurs whenever any of our desires are fulfilled.
In the third chapter, Sri Sadhu Om explains why we can attain true and infinite happiness only by practising ātma-vicāra or self-investigation. That is, happiness is experienced by us only to the extent to which our mind subsides, because the activity of our mind disturbs us from our natural state of peaceful happiness, distracting our attention away from our mere being. Therefore when our mind subsides partially or temporarily, we experience partial or temporary happiness, and if it subsides completely and permanently — that is, if it is destroyed or annihilated — we will experience complete and permanent happiness.
In the fourth chapter, ‘Who am I?’, after clarifying why we are neither this body nor this mind, nor any other such transitory adjunct, Sri Sadhu Om explains that our real nature is only our fundamental awareness of our own essential being — the one true adjunctless being-awareness or sat-cit — and that this non-dual being-awareness is itself true happiness or ānanda.
In the fifth chapter, ‘The Investigation Who am I and the Four Yōgas’, he explains why this simple practice of self-investigation — investigating who am I by keenly scrutinising our own essential being-awareness, ‘I am’ — is itself the essence of all the four yōgas, the four traditional types of spiritual practice, namely karma yōga (the path of niṣkāmya karma or ‘desireless action’, that is, the practice of doing action without desire for any sort of personal benefit but only out of love for God), bhakti yōga (the path of love or devotion to God), rāja yōga (the practice of a system of techniques that include specific forms of internal and external self-restraint, pranayama or breath-restraint, and various methods of meditation, the ultimate aim of which is to attain yōga or ‘union’ with God), and jñāna yōga (the path of knowledge, the aim of which is to know God as he really is).
In the sixth chapter, ‘Who Am I? is not Sōham Bhāvanā’, Sri Sadhu Om explains the difference between this practice of investigating who am I and sōham bhāvanā, the practice of meditating ‘I am he’ (that is, ‘I am God’ or ‘I am brahman’), which is an incorrect practice of jñāna yōga, but which has traditionally been mistaken to be the correct practice.
In the seventh chapter, ‘Self-Investigation’, Sri Sadhu Om explains in great detail the correct meaning of the term ātma-vicāra — self-enquiry or self-investigation. That is, in essence he explains that ātma-vicāra is the simple practice of self-attention or self-scrutiny — focusing our attention keenly and exclusively upon our own essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’.
Finally in the eighth chapter, ‘The Practice of Self-Investigation, Sri Sadhu Om discusses the practice of ātma-vicāra in greater depth and detail, disclosing many subtle clues to help, guide and encourage us in our practice.
In the first chapter of Supplement, ‘The World and God’, Sri Sadhu Om explains that the world and the ‘God’ whom we imagine to be other than ourself are both mental projections — creations of our own mind or power of imagination — as indeed is our own finite self or ‘soul’. The root cause of the appearance of these three seemingly separate entities, the world, soul and God, is our own pramāda or self-forgetfulness. Because we have used our infinite freedom to choose to ignore or forget what we really are, we now imagine ourself to be this finite body-bound mind or soul, and hence we imagine the existence of otherness, which appears as this seemingly external world, which is governed or controlled by a power that we call ‘God’.
In the second chapter, ‘Love or Bhakti’, Sri Sadhu Om explains how our devotion or bhakti takes different forms at the various stages of the development of our spiritual maturity, using the example of the different standards that a child progresses through in school. In the ‘school of bhakti’ there are five ‘standards’, each of which represents a certain type of religious or spiritual devotion that characterises a particular stage in our spiritual development.
In the third chapter, ‘Karma’, Sri Sadhu Om explains the truth of action or karma, but while doing so he begins from a perspective that is radically different to the perspective from which we normally understand karma. That is, karma is usually explained and understood from the perspective that we are a finite self, a body-bound mind or ‘soul’, whose nature is to do action by mind, speech and body, whereas Sri Sadhu Om begins by explaining that we are in truth the one infinite self, the absolute reality or brahman, whose real nature is just to be and not to do anything. Then Sadhu Om goes on to establish that the underlying reality and basis of all ‘doing’ or karma is only our own true being, and that the appearance of karma is caused only by our ignoring or forgetting our real nature as simple non-dual self-conscious being. Finally, Sri Sadhu Om proceeds on this basis to explain the entire web of karma that we have thus woven for ourself.