Question : No doubt the method taught by Bhagavan is direct. But it is so difficult. We do not know how to begin it. If we go on asking, `Who am I?', `Who am I?' like a japa [repetition of the name of God] or a mantra, it becomes dull. In other methods there is something preliminary and positive with which one can begin and then go step by step. But in Bhagavan's method, there is no such thing, and to seek the Self at once, though direct, is difficult. Ramana Maharshi: You yourself concede it is the direct method. It is the direct and easy method. When going after other things that are alien to us is so easy, how can it be difficult for one to go to one's own Self ? You talk of `Where to begin?' There is no beginning and no end. You are yourself in the beginning and the end. If you are here and the Self somewhere else, and you have to reach that Self, you may be told how to start, how to travel and then how to reach. Suppose you who are now in Ramanasramam ask, `I want to go to Ramanasramam. How shall I start and how to reach it?', what is one to say? A man's search for the Self is like that. He is always the Self and nothing else. You say `Who am I?' becomes a japa. It is not meant that you should go on asking `Who am I?' In that case, thought will not so easily die. In the direct method, as you call it, in asking yourself `Who am I?', you are told to concentrate within yourself where the `I'-thought, the root of all other thoughts, arises. As the Self is not outside but inside you, you are asked to dive within, instead of going without. What can be more easy than going to yourself? But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal. That is why so many different methods have been taught. Each of them will appeal to some as the best and easiest. That is according to their pakva or fitness. But to some, nothing except the vichara marga [the path of enquiry] will appeal. They will ask, `You want me to know or to see this or that. But who is the knower, the seer?' Whatever other method may be chosen, there will be always a doer. That cannot be escaped. One must find out who the doer is. Till then, the sadhana cannot be ended. So eventually, all must come to find out `Who am I?'.You complain that there is nothing preliminary or positive to start with. You have the `I' to start with. You know you exist always, whereas the body does not exist always, for example in sleep. Sleep reveals that you exist even without a body. We identify the `I' with a body, we regard the Self as having a body, and as having limits, and hence all our trouble. All that we have to do is to give up identifying the Self with the body, with forms and limits, and then we shall know ourselves as the Self that we always are. Question : Am I to think `Who am I?' Ramana Maharshi: You have known that the `I'-thought springs forth. Hold the `I'-thought and find its source. Source: from David Godman Excellent Book "Be As You are"