BEEN puzzled by Sri Ramana Maharshi's dictum that the
second and third persons rise up only after the first.
He said this often. For example:
second and the third persons do not appear except to
the first person. Therefore they arise only after the
first person appears, so all three persons seem to arise
and sink together. Trace, then, the ultimate cause of
"I" or personality.1
On an intellectual
level, the meaning is clear. These three persons are
terms from grammar; the first person is I, the
second is you; the third is he, she, or
they. So he's saying that we imagine other people
who are separate from us only after we imagine ourselves.
though I understood the idea, I felt that I was missing
the point, because the saying rang no bell of recognition
in me; it provoked no luminous aha! that's how it
a footnote in a book called The Path of Sri Ramana,
Part One by Sri Sadhu Om, I just discovered why
the saying went over my head. It turns out that something
got lost in translation.
points out that Ramana Maharshi expressed this idea
in Tamil, his native language, not English. In Tamil,
these grammatical categories aren't called persons;
they are called places. What the Maharshi actually said,
literally, was that the second place and third
place arise after the first place.
makes sense to me. When the ego illusion arises in me
-- when I think of myself -- what am I really thinking?
I'm thinking of here. I'm thinking of inside
my body. Everything on this side of that geographical
line is me; everything on the other side is you or them.
the bifurcation of space; it only exists when the world
is cut up into here and there. I can see this happen.
And seeing it happen brings the day closer when it happens
1. Be As You Are,
edited by David Godman, page 50; taken from Talks
with Sri Ramana Maharshi, article 26. Back
2000 Elena Gutierrez.
is a frequent contributor to Realization.org.