Aids To Self Enquiry: By Alan Jacobs

“Those who leave the path of Self Enquiry, the way of liberation, and wander off along the myriad forest tracks, will encounter only confusion”. Bhagavan Ramana.


Self Enquiry is the Direct Path and Bhagavan’s great contribution for the modern age for all. 

Self Enquiry is the backbone of the main weapon in Bhagavan’s teaching for eliminating the vasanas, tendencies and vrittis, the thought forms which act as a veil and occlude your Real Self.Total Surrender will also achieve the goal, but this way is slower as in the beginning we are only capable of partial Surrender. 

To start Self Enquiry is not easy!  We must have a  very great yearning and strong wish to commence. Pray for grace in this respect. It starts with the mind , turning inwards at 180 degrees and with concentration probing inward, beneath the skin, to find the source of the I Thought or ego. 

Many find the right side of the chest is an effective doorway to enter the interior and eventually the heart, where the source of the ego dwells.

The first aid is therefore to increase our power of concentration, without thought interfering. Most concentration spans are about 4 minutes. One can increase its power by practice. Gaze at a portrait of Bhagavan, or a candle or a spot on the wall to increase the power of your concentration for longer periods. It will help you all through your life!

The next aid is study. One must read about Self Enquiry as Bhagavan taught it. His two essays WHO AM I and SELF ENQUIRY are essential. They can be downloaded from this site or read from Collected Works. Read them over and over again until they have sunk in. They are not very long. Then one can read from the index on Self Enquiry in Talks With Ramana Maharshi – which can also be downloaded from the main Ramanasramam site as can David Godman’s Be As You Are , from his site, which has three chapters in his book on S.E.


1. It could be holding the breath , to stop thought and diving into the heart to find the source of the I thought, or just diving without holding the breath. (see my article on Diving Into the Heart on this site.

2. It could be questioning when thoughts or emotions arise, and asking “to whom does this  thought or feeling come? – to me” Then ask “who am I?”, with attention again seeking for the source of the I thought.

3. It could be paying attention to The Self- Self attention- or paying attention to awareness, or being Aware of your own Awareness.

4. It could be holding onto your ‘Real I thought’ (not the I am the body thought)  or your feeling of the essential I AMNESS, with attention, whenever it arises.

5. Repeat I-I-I-I as a mantra. it will take you there eventually.

6. Recite ytour favourite Mantra and then trace  back to where the source of the mantra comes from.

Perseverance, continued practice and great faith are needed. Each time you enquire, it will gradually loosen identification with the mind and body and start the severing of the Granthi Knot which holds the ‘I am the body, notion.” Your Self, the inner Guru will guide you, and modify the practice as needed. Adjustments will be made so that vasanas come out (Self Enquiry is a purifying practice), the nadis churned and the granthi knot eventually severed (See Bhagavan’s Essay Self Enquiry)

Self Enquiry is linked to devotion, it must become emotional not only from the head or mind, and then it is easier to reach to the source of the I thought.

For those who want to use a radical approach, my own practice, read my Essay enttitled Diving Into The Heart on this site.

Read the beginning quote once again please.

SELF ENQUIRY IS THE DIRECT APPROACH TO SELF REALISATION. It is His great gift, made available to all, pray for his Grace to initiate and guide you into the most suitable approach for you.

 Questions on Self Enquiry can be posted on


Life is a pure flame, and we live
by an invisible Sun within us.

Alan Jacobs is President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK , and author of The Bhagavad Gita a Poetic Transcreation ,The Principal Upanishads A Poetic Transcreation. Ramana Shankara and the Forty Verses, Poetry for the Spirit, and Mastering Music Walks the Sunlit Sea.

9 thoughts on “Aids To Self Enquiry: By Alan Jacobs

  1. Pingback: Karma, Reincarnation, and Suffering | Luthar.Com: HarshaSatsangh

  2. Since the publication of this article in the Mountain Path, the journal of Ramanasramam I have recently discovered that in his introduction to The Sri Ramanaparavidyopanishad, The Supreme Science as Taught by Sri Ramana by WHO (K.Lakshmana Sarma), Samvid writes “The diving within to accomplish this purpose [the Quest] after the restraint of all thought constructs through such Quest, is the only practical method taught by Bhagavan for Self-Realisation and Liberation.”

    Alan Jacobs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Alan,
    I want elaborate on aids to Self-Enquiry.

    1) Ordinary thinking is due to association and mind is allowed to move anywhere it likes.

    2)In Contemplation:- Thinking is allowed in one direction only.

    3) In concentration:- Thought i.e mind is not allowed to move,it is focussed and fixed but thought is

    still there in concentration.

    The above three are something to do with thinking.Process of thinking is mind.So if we try to

    concentrate we are allowing the mind i.e the process of thinking to continue.

    In Self-Enquiry the process of thinking i.e mind itself is not allowed.Process of nonthinking is

    Self-Enquiry,a state of nomind.


  4. The method given me was to create the I thought in my mind then place my attention on the point that it appeared in my mind. Then hold my attention on this spot even after the word had passed. Doing this also stopped every other thought.


  5. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    ““Those who leave the path of Self Enquiry, the way of liberation, and wander off along the myriad forest tracks, will encounter only confusion”. Bhagavan Ramana.” Thank you Alan Jacobs and Harsh Luthar!


  6. this is bad advice, just making self-inquiry into a practice or a technique that reinforces one’s identity as the seeker. and mixing up the real teachings with teachings who were meant for those who weren’t ready to understand.


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