The meaning of "I-I" from Sri Ramana Maharshi and the Theologia Germanica
Although the teaching of Sri Ramana Maharshi is profound, a careful consideration of the simplicity of his explanation of the "I-I" can reveal great light. Many of his most advanced disciples, both then and now, have understood correctly when they see the "I" not as something to be abandoned, but rather a state of mind from which, through protracted practice, we must wake up.
"(Aham, aham) ‘I-I’ is the Self; (Aham idam) “I am this” or “I and that” is the ego. Shining is there always. The ego is transitory; When the ‘I’ is kept up as ‘I’ alone it is the Self; when it flies at a tangent and says “this” it is the ego."
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi #363
“Protracted practice ripens into an intuitive approximation of the Self,
otherwise the Self remains but an imaginary conception even for sadhakas.”
Reflections on Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p.156.
These same disciples invariably refer to Bhagavan's words that Jnana, the awakened state of "I-I" is as a constant flow of oil.
"Just as by churning the curd butter is extracted and by friction fire is kindled, even so, by unswerving vigilant constancy in the Self, ceaseless like the unbroken filamentary flow of oil, is generated the natural or changeless trance or nirvikalpa samadhi,
which readily and spontaneously yields that direct, immediate,
unobstructed and universal perception of Brahman,
which is at once Knowledge and Experience and which transcends time and space."
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi #349
In consideration of the analogy "flow of oil", one should not only focus on the aspect of the "movement" of the oil, but give equal attention to "from where the oil started" and "toward where is it flowing."
The next quote from the Maharshi clearly reveals the answer, which to this day remains a polestar for those who have ears to hear that the "I", when it is "pure" as unbroken awareness and simply "consciousness", joyously flows from that which was created toward That which is Eternal!
Devotee: How is the ‘I-I’ consciousness felt?
Maharshi: As an unbroken awareness of ‘I’. It is simply consciousness.
D.: Can we know it when it dawns?
M.: Yes, as consciousness. You are that even now. There will be no mistaking it when it is pure.
D.: Why do we have such a place as the ‘Heart’ for meditation?
M.: Because you seek consciousness. Where can you find it? Can you reach it externally? You have to find it internally. Therefore you are directed inward. Again the ‘Heart’ is only the seat of consciousness or the consciousness itself. Talks #205
Now that we are hopefully in possession of the Truth and Light of the analogy of our awareness flowing uninterruptedly from the state of "I" - an individual will (Jiva - created) toward the "I-I" or That of an Eternal Will (Creator), let us look at the words of the Theologia Germanica. But first a personal note.
The copy of the Theologia Germanica that I am transcribing from belonged to Arthur Osborne, and was discovered within his private library at his home in Tiruvannamalai, South India. Mr. Osborne was one of the foremost direct disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and lived with him for much of the final years that the Maharshi sojourned on the earth. His writings on the teachings of the Maharshi remain to this day a pinnacle of guidance for those who endeavor to follow a path toward the highest spiritual attainment. The text was published in 1937, and is in pristine condition, except for one flaw. This being that the two pages comprising Chapter 27 have been permanently earmarked as to seemingly indicate that therein lies the sought-for goal of a spiritual treasure map!
[The Theologia Germanica, thru over 200 publications, is admired by Western Christian mystics as well as Hindu scholars within India. Because of it's practical application of Non-Dualism, it is still renounced by narrow-minded Western religious thinkers.]
Here follows the entire chapter:
How we are to take Christ's Words when He bade us forsake all Things;
and wherein the Union with the Divine Will standeth.
Now, according to what hath been said, ye must observe that when we say, as Christ also saith, that we ought to resign and foresake all things, this is not to be taken in the sense that a man is neither to do nor to purpose anything; for a man must always have something to do and to order so long as he liveth. But we are to understand by it that the union with God standeth not in any man's powers, in his working or abstaining, perceiving or knowing, nor in that of all the creatures taken together.
Now what is this union? It is that we should be of a truth purely, simply, and wholly at one with the One Eternal Will of God, or altogether without will, so that the created will should flow out into the Eternal Will, and be swallowed up and lost therein, so that the Eternal Will alone should do and leave undone in us. Now mark what may help or further us towards this end. Behold, neither exercises, nor words, nor works, nor any creature nor creature's work can do this. In this wise therefore we must renounce and foresake all things, that we must not imagine or suppose that any words, works, or exercises, any skill or cunning or any created thing can help or serve us thereto. Therefore we must suffer these things to be what they are, and enter into the union with God. Yet outward things must be, and we must do and refrain so far as is necessary, especially we must sleep and wake, walk and stand still, speak and be silent and much more of the like. These must go on so long as we live.