Happiness and the Art of Being – The Teachings of Sri Ramana – Book Review – Video & Text

Those of you who know me or are friends with me on social media forums like Facebook know that my background and interest in spirituality came through self-inquiry.  I’ve had a lot of Ramana Maharshi fans and followers ask when I’m going to review a book by or about Ramana.  So here it goes.  Welcome to the enlightenmentdudes.com review of Happiness and the Art of Being by Michael James.  The subtitle is “a layman’s introduction to the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.”

Before your wall of judgement goes up because I selected a book not written by Ramana, let me just say that Michael James is no slouch.  He has worked with Ramana followers and his ashram for many years as a translator.

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In this book, James succeeds in doing a scholarly job of explaining core teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.  There are actually some newer interpretations here based on the expertise of James – and he offers several related interpretations of some of Ramana’s key verses.

Mans quest for happiness and his own true being are the major contributing issues suffering.  The book has different areas of extensive writings from Ramana interspersed with expert commentary by James.  This book could also be considered a good recording of the history of Ramana Maharshi and his shift from being a teenaged schoolboy afraid of his own death to the being that inspired many thousands of spiritual seekers.

One of my favorite Bhagavan Ramana writings comes from Nan Yar (Who am I?).  As someone who had an attention deficit disorder problem and issues with rapid thinking, this passage spoke volumes to me:

So long as enemies are within the fort, they will continue coming out from it.  If (we) continue destroying (or cutting down) all of them as and when they come, the fort will (eventually) come into (our) possession.”

And the essence and purpose of experiencing the stillness of going within:

Just as a pearl-diver, tying a stone to his waist and submerging, picks up a pearl which lies in the ocean, so each person, submerging (beneath the surface activity of their mind) and sinking (deep) within themselves with (freedom from desire or passion for anything other than being), can attain the pearl of self.  If one clings fast to uninterrupted (self-remembrance) until one attains (one’s own essential self), that alone (will be) sufficient.”

While the entire books is worth reading, it is the last two sections that are the most excellent and handle “Self-Investigation and Self-Surrender”, and “Practicing the Art of Being.”

I don’t normally go through books with a highlighter, but this book was complex to read, and I wanted to revisit some of the main points.  I would not recommend this book to a beginner – it’s just too intimidating.  However, if you are a more serious seeker, enjoy the idea of inquiry, are looking for something new to try, or consider yourself a fan or student or Ramana Maharshi, then I think this book is well worth reading.  Enlightenmentdudes.com rates this book with a 7 out of 10 on our Infinity Scale.  This is Scott – thanks for joining me for this review.  For more recommendations check out our website. or subscribe to our email updates.

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