How to Begin Self-Inquiry: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar
The play of concepts is endless. Concepts about the body, the mind, spirit, etc. It is the quicksand which entangles one more and more. It is the stuff of religion, philosophy, spirituality, great writers, great thinkers, great teachers, great leaders, etc.
The presumption to teach and help others to improve themselves reveals the unrelenting grip of the ego. Sri Ramana used to say that our first duty is to realize our true nature.
The wise say, that, “I am the doer” notion is bondage (See the Bhagavad Gita). This is a very deep philosophy and requires a subtle understanding of how to remain balanced in life.
How do you accomplish anything in life as you perceive it? It is through your mind and body, which constitute your identity at this time.
On the Jnana path, we are not trying to accomplish anything but to simply realize our True Nature or Original Nature, or Self or however you want to phrase it. Understanding the subtle effort involved, which is very different than the effort involved in achieving worldly things, is important for an aspirant.
To go to the root of the ego, one should bring attention to the feeling of existence and awareness of one’s own being. When thoughts intervene, one can bring one’s attention back to the simple and pure feeling of being/existence. This should be done in a quiet setting in the beginning. This attentional effort will become the guide and you will know what to do.
The identity of the ego/mind depends on having experiences of various sorts in relationship to “others”, generating various perceptions (both internal and external), interpreting those perceptions, and then reacting to those perceptions.
This outward tendency to focus on “others” has become so habitual, that it takes some understanding to slow it and then halt it.
This is why Bhagavan Ramana advocated the inquiry, “Who Am I?” to withdraw attention that is flowing outward and bring this attention to the subject instead. So self- inquiry helps us notice the subject, become aware of the subject, and understand that the subject is the source of attention.
When the subject starts attending to the subject, the self-inquiry has started. As long as the inner observer is lost in outside perceptions, it cannot pay attention to itself. When the observer turns the observation internally and starts to simply pay attention and observe itself, the self-inquiry has started.
Editor’s note: The featured picture is from Mirela Skrebic