Author Topic: Question about self-enquiry  (Read 13426 times)

Japo

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Question about self-enquiry
« on: December 28, 2009, 02:14:48 AM »
Hello everyone!
In Wikipedia's article on self-enquiry it says:

Practice

"Beginners in self-enquiry were advised by Sri Ramana to put their attention on the inner feeling of ‘I’ and to hold that feeling as long as possible. They would be told that if their attention was distracted by other thoughts they should revert to awareness of the ‘I’-thought whenever they became aware that their attention had wandered. He suggested various aids to assist this process- one could ask oneself ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Where does this I come from?’- but the ultimate aim was to be continuously aware of the ‘I’ which assumes that it is responsible for all the activities of the body and the mind."


So, is one supposed to just repeat the word "I" in his/her mind in the beginning, and only after the inner feeling of I comes more clearly?


Thanks!

Graham

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2009, 03:38:39 AM »
First and foremost Bhagavan stated that self-enquiry should be performed with the same intensity as that of a drowning man struggling for air, only then can it succeed.

Self-enquiry is holding on to the awareness of being that ‘you already are’. There is only one awareness, the one who is reading this article is the ego and the Self all in one, but the ego is the apparition covering the pure Self and that has to die to the real Self in order that self-realisation can take place. This is a mystery at first, but once accomplished it is very clearly understood.

Bhagavan often made the comparison of the actor in a Play - during the Play the actor assumes a completely different role, yet retains his true nature and combines the two. A good actor truly believes he is the role that he is playing, but after it is finished he discards the role and reverts to his original nature. In our case we have forgotten who we are and believe that our role is the Reality. Just as the actor is not two Beings, not two ‘I’s’, nor are we two ‘I’s’. It really is that simple.

However, our ingrained belief that the role we play is in fact the Reality is so strong, that it requires intense and prolonged effort to remove it.

To do this you must concentrate totally upon the awareness of ‘you’, without thought of any kind, or try to catch the ‘I-thought’ as it rises from within and then hold on to that firmly to the exclusion of all else.

The ‘I’ thought that you have to catch is a tangible and distinct force that rises from within the apparition created by the ego. It is this force that sustains the ego and gives it life, just as the actor gives life to his part in the play through his own personality. There is however an acute difference. The pure ‘I’ thought is devoid of personality as we normally understand it – it just IS.

This process requires intense, unbroken concentration, and in the majority of cases takes many years of hard effort and should be carried out, if possible, with eyes open. This does not involve physical or emotional strain of any kind, and strain should always be avoided.

When successful, awareness withdraws from the body into the crown of the head – this is usually very fast and experienced as receding from the feet upwards. At this point the breath becomes automatically controlled separate from that awareness of ‘being’ and it might even stop altogether. Even in this minor stage there is no concern whether the breath stops or not, because the body is already perceived as a heavy, cold and totally lifeless thing, not ‘you’, but something alien to you, a burden that you do not want. The awareness focussed in the crown of the head is however pristine in clarity and thought is suspended. This expansion of consciousness though devoid of bodily attachment is still the dark ego/mind complex.

At this point and in all of the following experiences the attention should be carefully, but powerfully turned towards the witness of all of this, with an intense thought-free longing to know who it is that sees it.

That in a nutshell is the process of Self-enquiry.

Japo

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2009, 04:46:09 PM »
Thank you very much for making this clearer. But I have few other questions as well.

Quote
First and foremost Bhagavan stated that self-enquiry should be performed with the same intensity as that of a drowning man struggling for air, only then can it succeed. --

This process requires intense, unbroken concentration, and in the majority of cases takes many years of hard effort and should be carried out, if possible, with eyes open. This does not involve physical or emotional strain of any kind, and strain should always be avoided.

So can I practice self enquiry all the time? Nisargadatta Maharaj said:

"I gave my heart and soul, my entire attention and the whole of my spare time (I had to work to keep my family alive) . As a result of faithand earnest application, I realized my self (‘swarupa’) within threeyears"


So is it difficult to practice self enquiry while working or studying? Because when we work or study we have give more atenttion to outside world. And would you recommend self enquiry to be done as silent sitting (to give for example 45minutes to nothing but sitting and watching this feeling of I-am-ness)?

Quote
To do this you must concentrate totally upon the awareness of ‘you’, without thought of any kind, or try to catch the ‘I-thought’ as it rises from within and then hold on to that firmly to the exclusion of all else.
But this isn't literally a thought (like "I am this") but a feeling. Am I right?


Edit: And how should I exactly make this effort in self-enquiry? If I just let go of thoughts. doesn't awareness naturally arise from there?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 04:50:50 PM by Japo »

nonduel

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2009, 08:17:21 PM »
Dear Japo,

One of the best book to learn and understand Self-Enquiry as taught by Sri Ramana is the book: "The Path of Sri Ramana" Part one by Sri Sadhu Om.

Love
Oh Arunachala, blazing fire of Jnana, in my heart I pray and think of Thee from afar, root out the ego, merging me in the Self.

Japo

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2009, 04:17:39 AM »
Okay thank you very much :)

Quote
Imagine you are now going to play the role of a employee.
You are not the employee... just playing the role... like in a drama.

Initially one has to make a little effort not to forget that one is the one playing the role and not the role itself.

But with little practice ... one shall see that its very easy ... just play a role. As one plays in a stage drama ! not much different.

So too. know you are self and play as many roles as you want.

But there shouldn't be any idea of attainment of realization involved, am i right? And one more thing, should the question "Who am I" be asked every time I find that I find myself wondering in thoughts?

paul

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2009, 04:34:11 AM »
Dear Japo, I have found extracts from the following books helpful:

a) Who Am I ? (Nan Yar ?)
The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

9. What is the path of inquiry for understanding the nature of the mind?

That which rises as ‘I’ in this body is the mind. If one inquires as to where in the body the thought ‘I’ rises first, one would discover that it rises in the heart. That is the place of the mind’s origin. Even if one thinks constantly ‘I’ ‘I’, one will be led to that place. Of all the thoughts that arise in the mind, the ‘I’ thought is the first. It is only after the rise of this that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the first personal pronoun that the second and third personal pronoun appear; without the first personal pronoun there will not be the second and third.

b) Ramana Maharshi: His Life
A biography by Gabriele Ebert

An extract taken from pages 128 and 129

Sometimes devotees would not ask their questions orally, preferring  to write them down on a slip of paper. Once a simple woman had written to him, “I am not learned in the Scriptures and I find the method of Self-enquiry too hard for me. I am a woman with seven children and a lot of household cares, and it leaves me little time for meditation. I request Bhagavan to give me some simpler and easier method.” Sri Ramana gave her the following practical advice, “No learning or knowledge of Scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not-Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying ‘I,I’ to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in ‘Who am I?’, whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. ‘I’ is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it.”


Recently I have lost my way with Self-enquiry but some of the recent posts have got me back on track with it. One of them from Graham about   Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana:   

The only advice I can give is 'never lose hope and never give in to despair in your efforts to Realize the Self. Meditate when sattva is predominant and when rajas and tamas are predominant, turn to prayer until they pass'.

Above all else, have faith in God and in yourself and it will all come right in the end. Nothing is more certain than that.

The other one was by Amiatall in the post on The Essence and Practise by Sadhu Om:

Know that a vichari (a person practicing Self-inquiry) who makes effort with the liking always to turn inwards to see the “I” with the inner eye, will not be able to experience the pure Self-consciousness merely by the process of sitting ma-jestically with closed eyes for a long period of time at one stretch.

If at one single attempt you strive persis-tently for long hours without limit,
to pull Selfwards and restrain the running mind without leaving your hold on Self-attention, you will find that you are not able to maintain a steady intensity of Self-attention. Therefore, after making one attempt for a few minutes, relax your effort for a while, and then again make a fresh attempt with renewed effort.

For me Self- enquiry is best done while out walking with our dog. On occasions there are not too many distractions and so I have tried to keep Self-enquiry  going for long periods very unsuccessfully with many many distractions but this one piece of advice trying it for many short periods allows me to complete each one without too many distractions.

This is something I will now try with renewed vigour
Paul.



Nagaraj

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2009, 12:46:29 PM »
Dear I,

“If the enquiry, ‘Who am I?’ were a mere mental questioning, it would not be of much value,” observes the Maharshi; “The very purpose of self enquiry is to focus the entire mind at its source.” The source of the psychosis “I” (aham-vritti) is the Self. In enquiry what we should do is we must trace the psychosis to its root, instead of running along with it only to get lost in the welter of external objects. The reason why we should start from the ahamvritti is obvious. We must begin with that with which we are familiar. The aham-vritti, or what the Maharshi calls, “I-am”-ness is the one infallible clue in our quest after the Self. No other clue can lead us direct to Self-realization. The Maharshi explains the object of this method in these words: “The search for the Source of the aham-vritti is not merely the search for the basis of one of the forms of the ego but for the very Source itself from which arises the “Iam”-ness. In other words, the quest for and the realization of the Source of the ego in the form of aham-vritti necessarily implies the transcendence of the ego in every one of its possible forms.” The method of Self-enquiry is, no doubt, not an easy one. But there is no other means to Self-realization; and every other sadhana must culminate in Atma-vichara.

One potent mode of Self-enquiry which is advocated by the Maharshi and which is extensively taught in the Upanishads is to analyse the three states of experience, viz., waking, dream and sleep.

The net result of such an enquiry is that while the states and their contents change and pass, the Self remains constant and unchanging. It is selfluminous
and shines by itself. In dream there is not the function of the external sense-organs; yet the Self is. In sleep even the mind goes to rest; but the Self stands as the sole witness of the absence of objects there. In order to teach that the Self is not to be confused with the three changing states, it is referred to as Turiya.

“Truly speaking,” says the Maharshi, “pure Consciousness is indivisible, it is without parts. It has no form and shape, no ‘within’ and ‘without’. There is no ‘right’ nor ‘left’ for it. Pure consciousness, which is the Heart, includes all; and nothing is outside or apart from it. That is the ultimate Truth.”

Self-realisation, however, is not a matter of mere theoretical conviction. It is, no doubt, true that even he who is intellectually dissatisfied with the pluralistic view is far superior to those who have not received that awakening. But the Wisdom that liberates is intuitive, and makes us aware of our true nature in such a way that there is no return to ignorance and unwisdom. In the final experience there is no fragmentation of consciousness, nor is integration of Bliss. There one is the Self, which is Existence-Knowledge-Happiness. It is not a state which is to be newly acquired. It is already there. It has always been there. All that is necessary is to get rid of the delusion “I have not realised.” The lid of ignorance that covers the Truth should be lifted. When the darkness of avidya is dispelled, the self-luminous Intelligence is realised to be the ever-shining light and the sole reality.

It is not possible to realise the Self, if there is attachment to the objects of sense. Hence all our Scriptures are unanimous in advocating the need for dispassion or vairagya. Not by works, nor by progeny nor wealth, but by renunciation alone is immortality to be gained. But true renunciation does not consist in external symbols such as sack-cloth and ashes. The outer marks have no value if there is not dispassion within. The following advice was given by the Maharshi to a grihastha who was tormented by the thought that his was a despicable position unhelpful to spiritual advancement; “Why do you think you are a grihastha? Similar thoughts that you are a sannyasin will haunt you, even if you go out as a sannyasin. Whether you continue in the household or renounce it and go to the forest, your mind haunts you. The ego is the source of thought. It creates the body and the world, and it makes you think of being a grihastha. If you renounce, it will only substitute the thought of sannyasa for that of grihastha and the environment of the forest for that of the household. But the mental obstacles are always there for you. They even increase greatly in the new surroundings. It is no help to change the environment. The obstacle is the mind: it must be got over whether in the home or in the forest.” These words, however, should be interpreted with great care. They were given in an answer to a grihastha who was trying to assess the relative value of his own asrama and sannyasa. If he was really keen on renunciation, he would not have argued or hesitated. One who feels the burning heat of a red-hot iron rod does not take even the space of a moment to let go his hold of it. Final sannyasa comes as the fruit of a long endeavour in spiritual culture. Hence what must be developed in order to deserve it is the inner spirit of detachment. True vairagya must spring from within.

Swami Rajeswarananda & Dr TMP Mahadevan

Salutations to Sri Ramana
« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 01:14:07 PM by Nagaraj »
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Nagaraj

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2009, 01:51:47 PM »
Dear I,

What the Guru does is first explains the disciple about the existence of such exalted (state), the student begins only by intellectually understanding That (state). Its like, the teacher says there is a place called Bombay to the student, and the student, though, he actually would never have visited that place but at the same time, the student cannot possibly deny the existence of a place called Bombay. Its the same thing, whether one has seen the moon or not, no one can deny the existence of moon.

Like the analogy of Shankara in Satasloki, The student who wishes to become verily like his Guru, the Guru (Sculpter) first teaches the art to the student and makes the statue which is not really there, and then makes the statue and makes the student a Guru himself.

Salutations to Sri Ramana

॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Nagaraj

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2009, 02:25:39 PM »
Dear I,

Yes, thats true. Eventually, he has to see it himself, and will see that He - Itself is That Self - Mumbai.

Salutations to Sri Ramana
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Subramanian.R

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2010, 08:36:51 PM »
As paul rightly observed the Who am I? sums up everything.
The Path of Ramana by Sri Sadhu Om is a carefully written
detailed commentary. 

Arunachala Siva.

nonduel

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2010, 11:37:18 PM »
Dear All,

A few questions on Self-Enquiry:

Does it has to be done in, scheduled or not, sitting session in addition to all activities?
Eyes open or closed?
Has Sri Ramana anwered these?

Love
Oh Arunachala, blazing fire of Jnana, in my heart I pray and think of Thee from afar, root out the ego, merging me in the Self.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2010, 06:43:28 AM »
Dear nonduel,

1. Inititally some scheduled time should be allotted.  Preferably
at night, when the world around is quiet.  This scheduled time
should be increased.

2. In due course, it becomes uninterrupted throughout the day,
even during work and in work-stations.

There are many conversations in "Talks" and "Day By Day" and "Letters from Sri Ramanasramam" and "Maharshi's Gospel", covering these aspects.

3.  He has told Annamalai Swami (vide Sri Ramana Ninaivugal -
Tamil by Annamalai Swami) once:  "Opening the eyes and doing
self enquiry or meditation is better in the beginning.  Closing the
eyes would create rush of unwanted thoughts in larger measure.
It is like throwing a ball at a wall, standing very close to that wall.
The ball will rebound with higher speed to hit you.  If you throw
a ball at a wall from a distance, the rebounding ball will not come
speedily."

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2010, 11:11:41 AM »
Dear srkudai,

With open eyes, if one does meditation or self enquiry, only the
mind jumps out the five external senses, like eyes, ears, nose,
etc.,  It is a regular soccer game.

With closed eyes, the mind does free-for-all games, like Shaolin
Soccer or Rugby.

Arunachala Siva.

nonduel

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2010, 06:46:13 PM »
Dear Subramanian-ji,

Yes I have come accross some of these references that you have pointed out. I remember Sri Ramana telling Annamalai Swamy to abide in the self all throughout the day when he was working hard at a building project, not just in sitting sessions. I try to abide the self (self-attention) uninterruptedly throughout the day, eyes open. Doing sitting sessions occasionally with eyes closed. Every night, I always lie in bed for sleep abiding in the self, which often delays my falling asleep.

I was just wondering if Bhagavan ever directly pointed out that sitting sessions with eyes closed are better or that neither one or the other is "better".

I have came accross many accounts where Self-Realisation occured unexpectedly, that is, not in sitting sessions, not even thinking about it.

Love


Dear nonduel,

1. Inititally some scheduled time should be allotted.  Preferably
at night, when the world around is quiet.  This scheduled time
should be increased.

2. In due course, it becomes uninterrupted throughout the day,
even during work and in work-stations.

There are many conversations in "Talks" and "Day By Day" and "Letters from Sri Ramanasramam" and "Maharshi's Gospel", covering these aspects.

3.  He has told Annamalai Swami (vide Sri Ramana Ninaivugal -
Tamil by Annamalai Swami) once:  "Opening the eyes and doing
self enquiry or meditation is better in the beginning.  Closing the
eyes would create rush of unwanted thoughts in larger measure.
It is like throwing a ball at a wall, standing very close to that wall.
The ball will rebound with higher speed to hit you.  If you throw
a ball at a wall from a distance, the rebounding ball will not come
speedily."

Arunachala Siva.
Oh Arunachala, blazing fire of Jnana, in my heart I pray and think of Thee from afar, root out the ego, merging me in the Self.

Japo

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Re: Question about self-enquiry
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2010, 10:03:11 PM »
Thank you again for helpful replies and comments :) reading them make tensions of my mind dissapear.


In Nan Yar ""Who am I" Bhagavan says:
"If other thoughts arise, one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire, 'To whom did they occur?' What does it matter if ever so many thoughts arise? At the very moment that each thought rises, if one vigilantly enquires 'To whom did this appear?' it will be known 'To me'. If one then enquires 'Who am I?' the mind will turn back to its source and the thought that had arisen will also subside."


Do you yourself say to yourself this ("to whom did this thought occur?") when mind wonders. Or is this just meant to be seen?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 10:05:01 PM by Japo »