"Before the Big Bang, I am-ness". This sounds better coming from an authentic Indian, rather than a Californian body builder, and Ramana Maharshi wasn't only authentic; he was the real deal!
I have researched this guy online and they all agree that a living Buddha walked in India until 1950. So I suppose this is the closest we will get to the authentic source within you and me, but is hidden.
These talks are similar to what we think a Buddha would have had with the sleepers. Ramana Maharshi was before the Internet and the spiritual supermarket industry and he didn't make any money, which is a change.
Here is a funny story I came across. The Swiss psychologist, C G Jung, who fancied himself a seer, travelled to India in 1938 but was terrified of Ramana Maharshi. He refused to visit the sage, he ran away! Why would Jung, who wrote about Ramakrishna and Samadhi and claimed to be a gnostic, run from Ramana Maharshi when he visited India?
When I was a kid, top heavyweight boxers would mouth off at iron Mike Tyson; until they got in the ring. Then they experienced the living force of boxing. Is this what happened to Carl Jung? I still respect Carl Jung and he is still a top heavyweight and he is a valuable figure. However, Ramanaa Maharshi was the Iron Mike Tyson of this subject and so if you are not really a fanatic on boxing, but want to see It in action, you mite as well watch You Tube vids of Mike Tyson in his prime, and if you just want to dabble in this Vedanta thing, then Ramana Maharshi is the man to check out.
I suppose we are all like Jung. What I mean is, we dabble in books, and we meditate, and we even try psychedelics, thinking that we know. But imagine if someone told you that a Buddha was living down the road? How would you react? We can't be too harsh on Jung then.
Anyway, Ramana Maharshi was a 'jnani'. This is a very important concept in Indian, alien to the West. The Gita uses this word but the English translators botch it; and Prabhupada also! (In this book they use the proper words in the Gita passages). In the books, they call him a 'saint', but that's a lazy translation of Jnani. I was put off for years reading this book because of the Christian overtones of the word 'saint'. Ramana Maharshi was a jnani, a knower. He is the true source of the spirit in our world. And he is authentic, because I can't find any dirt of Ramana Maharshi, and its easy to find dirt on Guru these days. This is good.
I have read Stripping the Gurus and I am aware of the tourism. (My rich cousins and their mates even went to India. They didn't get better). Also, the book, Karma Cola is the classic satire on this subject, and I am not being sarcastic here, you see. Because if we want to save the phenomenon, we must conclude that only a few have awoken. Then we can accept the sex scandles. Ramana Maharshi was before all the clowning around, post Beatles.
Today, all these Indians are in on the act. Even U G Krishmanurti is in on the act. He's the nihilist one; with big breasted models strategically placed in some of his videos (check out his 'final words' video).
U G Krishnamurti speaks perfect English. This should be our warning and a lesson in our accepting of the exotic Guru. The spirit died years ago, what's left is a spiritual supermarket.
Ramana Maharshi was before the 1960's and he is trustworthy. The rest are charlatans, apart from Nissargadatta who didn't speak English.
I am aware that this book is available for free online, but its sometimes nice to hold it in your hand and play with it and this huge book is amazing value for money!
Ken Wilber's intro is as excellent as all his writings. He is the best body-builder in the isle. The glossary at the back is one of the best I have come across.
Highly, highly recomended :)