The Ultimate Self-Inquiry
Who am I? …or… What am I? ...or even… Am I?
These are the ultimate questions of our existence. Is there anybody on this world who has not asked themselves one of these questions at least once in their lifetime? Anyway, for most of us, it would be awesome to reveal answers to these most profound questions.
But why should anyone bother with such questions at all?
The self-inquiry should be self-sufficient per se, with no external benefits. There is no goal to it, except for revealing our true nature. The practice of self-inquiry naturally occurs when an individual reaches spiritual maturity, which genuinely accelerates their pursuit toward the ultimate Truth. An inner urge for self-realization spontaneously arises. Enlightenment is going to happen, of its own accord and that should be sufficient as such. However, there is even more to that.
The practice of self-inquiry naturally occurs when an individual reaches spiritual maturity.
Are There Benefits of Self-Inquiry?
Yes, there indeed are significant side-benefits of such a practice.
If you are doing the self-inquiry on a regular basis, you might experience some profound changes in your life, similar to those of “normal” meditation sittings or mindfulness practice. For example, you might:
If you are doing the self-inquiry on a regular basis, you might experience some profound changes in your life, similar to those of “normal” meditation sittings or mindfulness practice.
But the most precious gain of this practice could be out of any concept of benefit whatsoever: The Ultimate Truth.
The Technique of Self-Inquiry
Now, let us dive into the nuts-and-bolts of self-inquiry. You may be doing it by following these steps:
Here is a more detailed explanation of each step.
1. Enter the state of Presence. Just be here and now. Accept any external impressions, or internal sensations, emotions or thoughts that may arise. For that purpose, you may apply the Dissolving the Temporary I technique, which will take you directly to the boundless state of Pure Consciousness, or Presence.
2. Turn your attention inward and ask the question: What is present?
Note that the question begins with what instead of who. Of course, you may ask the “classical” question Who am I? and might end up with the same result. However, what doesn't imply any identity, while who does. In this process, identities are the obstacles to the Truth, so we aim to release all our identities to experience the essence of our being.
In this process, identities are the obstacles to the Truth, so we aim to release all our identities to experience the essence of our being.
You will probably get many answers to this question. They could appear as thoughts, inner voices, images, or even emotions and blurry feelings. Often, some thoughts, seemingly unrelated to the question, might arise. In any case, accept all these mind contents entirely and return to your question.
The real answer does not relate to your body (e.g., I am this body) nor any identity (e.g., your name, like I am John Smith; family role, such as I am a father of two; profession, as in I am a teacher, etc.).
The real answer will never come in the form of your mind content - thoughts, images, or emotions. It is not your sense of “I” neither. The real answer to this question is beyond all of that. Try to find that which is beyond. It is a kind of presence in the background of thoughts, emotions and all other experiences.
3. Ask yourself the next question: What is aware of that presence?
This question is merely another pointer to the Truth.
Attend to your consciousness. Be aware of your awareness. Does it have any boundaries? What is that mysterious, conscious presence? Do you recognize that subtle “is-ness” or “am-ness” in the background of your consciousness?
The only real answer to these questions is a direct experience of your True Nature. It’s beyond any word, concept, impression, or identification. It’s pure nothingness, pure presence, “is-ness.”
However, we are going to name it for the sake of this process. So, let’s call it “Pure Presence.”
4. Abide in Pure Presence.
This state we could name in countless ways: Inner Truth, Emptiness, Nothingness. It is formless, inexplicable, unknown, unexplainable. It is beyond mind and any concept. You can see that it has always been present within you. The “Is-ness.” Your true Essence. And, to you, it is the most familiar thing in your life.
5. When any disturbance arises, repeat steps from 1 to 4.
It is almost inevitable that a distraction will emerge, whether from the inside (thoughts, emotions, physical sensations) or outside (sound, somebody shows up, a phone call, or anything else). Now, after being deeply grounded in the state of Pure Presence or Inner Truth, you will more easily return to that state and merge with this Nothingness.
What if You Fail to Recognize Your Inner Truth?
If you are not able to become aware of Pure Presence, do not despair. It has already been there, within you, and it will always be. Do not worry, you will recognize it, sooner or later, because it is actually the most familiar “thing” in your life. You are so used to it, since a long time ago, that it has become unrecognizable to you. It is your true nature, and you are entirely accustomed to it. You are that since the dawn of your whole existence as an individual being.
If you are not able to become aware of Pure Presence, do not despair. You will recognize it, sooner or later, because it is actually the most familiar “thing” in your life.
You are the nothingness or pure space behind everything. This nothingness is not nihilistic. It's the source of everything – you, your mind, body and your individual life. It's the source of all inspiration and creativity. It's the inexhaustible well of deep Love and great Joy.
Your True Nature is the source of great peace. Whenever you recognize it, you will enter a state of profound peace. You will be able to feel deep love for others. In all circumstances, you will enjoy every activity and feel subtle peace within.
After recognizing your True Nature several times during your sessions of self-inquiry, you will become able to recognize it in everyday life. So, whenever you remind yourself to become present here-and-now, you simply shift your attention to your “is-ness” in the background of everything. Every time you spontaneously become aware of the present moment, switch to the “formless” behind. This is something similar to mindfulness practice, but in this case, we could name it the truthfulness practice.
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