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Advanced Yoga Practices
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Note: For the complete lessons, with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.

Lesson 322 - The Witness as Underlying Cause of Self-Inquiry

From: Yogani
Date: April 16, 2009

New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"



While we may often hear that enlightenment is an absolute condition which can be realized immediately by using absolute measures, this is fiction for the vast majority of people. It is an attractive proposition for the mind. We could even say that it is intellectually and emotionally seductive. But it is fiction all the same. Taking such thinking too seriously may lead us to one-dimensional or extremist approaches that can delay our spiritual progress rather than enhance it.

There is a middle way.

As soon as we come to the realization that enlightenment is an ongoing journey rather than an instant event, we will open to the possibilities, and practical strategies will be revealed to us from all sides. It is amazing how that works. If we remain open, we will find that an intelligent integration of effective methods can bring us to realize what we have been seeking, and with far less difficulty. Paradoxically, the multifold path is the path of least doing, and certainly the one of least angst. This is the great secret of yoga.

Could it be that simple?

The AYP approach to self-inquiry is to integrate it naturally into our life a bit at a time as part of our overall routine of practices and resulting spiritual unfoldment. Self-inquiry is what we have the option to do as we go about enhancing our normal every day life between our twice-daily sittings of structured practices. Self-inquiry of this kind is less structured and highly individual. It may draw on different teachings at different times. There is benefit in being eclectic. However, there are several levels of application in self-inquiry which are essential to understand, mainly so we can stay in synchronization with our own spiritual progress and avoid the undue strains of getting stuck. It is important to pace our practices to accommodate the changes that are occurring within us. This applies to self-inquiry as much as any other practice we are utilizing. We will explore this in the upcoming lessons.

We will be systematic in our approach, but not issuing cookbook instructions for self-inquiry. There are plenty of cookbook (formula) approaches out there already. Real self-inquiry is beyond the methods of the mind. It is in the realm of the witness. Therefore, our practice will be determined more-so by our inner unfoldment than by any mental procedure we may apply. Our inner unfoldment is the cause of refinements in mental procedure, not the other way around. This is a progressive and safe approach to spiritual development, assuming we are working with the underlying principles of human spiritual transformation and integrating time-tested techniques. We will be doing many things in order to be doing nothing in the stillness of our inner awareness.

The primary aim of self-inquiry is to remain established in the unconditioned inner silence that resides within all of us, that is us. The experiencer: the witness to all thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the body and external phenomena. Self-inquiry seeks to dissolve the identification of awareness with all of these perceptions that are external to our unconditioned awareness. The traditional wisdom holds that the abiding presence of the witness (unconditioned awareness) will be the effect of self-inquiry. Under certain circumstances, it can be, and this is the aim of those who pursue self-inquiry as a stand-alone path. All of the various strategies (mental algorithms) of self-inquiry are for realizing That.

However, it is also true that the presence of the silent witness is the cause of self-inquiry, and this is a more fundamental truth. Being is more fundamental than any doing we can conceive of. When the witness is present, a natural inclination toward self-inquiry becomes self-evident. The mind simply follows That. The innate condition of the practitioner as the witness becomes the answer to every inquiry the eternal stillness that does nothing, even as life carries on in all of its diversity, with us fully engaged in it in an illuminated condition. Once the witness is present, self-inquiry becomes automatic. The witness is both the fuel and the destination of self-inquiry. Self-inquiry without abiding inner silence, the witness, is like a house without a foundation, or like a castle built in the air. Those who engage in self-inquiry without some experience in meditation know what this is like. Not fun for long.

Therefore, in the AYP approach, we seek to cultivate the witness first by the most effective means at our disposal. We begin by establishing our practice of daily deep meditation (see Lesson 13). In doing so, we insure the fruition of all we undertake in self-inquiry, and our permanent realization of the truth. We are then on the path of becoming that which we seek. With a clear recognition of this "cause and effect" relationship, with cultivation of the witness as cause, we find ourselves in an increasingly advantageous position to pursue any system of self-inquiry with good results.

The guru is in you.

Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation for cultivating the witness, see the AYP Deep Meditation book.
For detailed discussion on how the rise of the witness results in practical self-inquiry, see the Self-Inquiry book
and the Liberation book.

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