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Lesson 324 - Self-Inquiry From Inspiration to Realization  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: April 24, 2009

New Visitors: 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?"


Next to devotion, which is the cornerstone of all the spiritual traditions of the world, self-inquiry is the most common spiritual technique on the earth. In fact, it isn't even considered a spiritual technique by many who engage in it. It is simply an ongoing inquiry for truth.

As little children it is likely we have asked, "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" The way in which we have answered these questions in the past has determined to a large degree what we have done with our lives up until now. And, if we have not been too hardened by life, we are likely to still be asking these questions. We are wired for it. We simply must know the truth about life. It is an endless search for purpose and meaning. 

Perhaps at some point we read or heard that life is unbounded and that human beings can experience this unbounded nature of life, and become That. Somehow it rang true, and we were inspired. Perhaps we have been inspired ever since.

It is from there that we began our quest for knowledge in earnest, only to find that the mind alone, while very good for entertaining ideas, even one so grand as enlightenment, will leave us either stuck in frustration or lost in a labyrinth of endless streams of thought. Even the thought of letting go can create more mental structure and inertia. 

The more we think about it, the more frustrating it can become. The mind just isn't the place to solve the riddle of enlightenment. The key is to go beyond the mind. We don't have to kill our mind or our thoughts to do this. We just need to find our center in the witness (our native unconditioned awareness), which is beyond the mind, and easily favor that. Then the mind becomes our friend again. The mind makes a poor master, but a good servant. Our goal is not to get rid of the mind or thinking. The goal is to dissolve the identification of our mind as our self, our ego, to wake up from the dream that we have been living in. It is not the destruction of the ego or the mind. Only a shift to become identified as the great blank screen behind the grand movie of our life the witness.

So, it is very important what we do with the inspiration that our initial self-inquiry may bring us. If we use the inspiration to propel us into sound methods for transcending the mind to stillness, then we will find the possibility to move from inspiration to transformation. 

The idealist touting a philosophical approach will say that there is no transformation to be had, for everything is as it should be right now. We only must realize it in the now. But that realization is a transformation also, and it cannot occur until our perception is opened to a level where we can see what is. Without the witness, it will not happen.

It is possible to spend many years in self-inquiry, pondering the truth behind things and studying the words of those who know over and over again. Such writings are plentiful, easily accessed these days, and can be very inspiring. Yet, no matter how many times we read the words, or engage in the logic of particular modes of self-inquiry, we may feel quite distant from what the words and ideas are attempting to convey. The reason is because we can only know within ourselves, and for that, the perception of our own inner silence as our Self must be opened. We need the witness.

Then, when we read the words of the wise, they will resonate more each time. It will not be the words that change us. It will be we who have changed, and we will see more truth in all expressions of knowledge as we continue to open to our native awareness inside. 

Self-inquiry itself is not a very effective way to cultivate the witness. It is the underlying principle of meditation that cultivates the witness always. To the extent self-inquiry can aid us in dissolving the objects of the mind, it will cultivate the witness. In doing so, it will be utilizing the principle of meditation gradually dissolving the identification of our awareness with objects to become increasingly identified with the subject, which is the witness. Self-inquiry is not necessarily the most efficient kind of meditation, but it can be a kind of meditation all the same. The greater purpose of self-inquiry is for integrating our inner silence with the flow of life, giving rise to the ongoing conscious experience of Unity, which is expressed in the ancient phrase, "I am That. You are That. All this is That." It is the eternal joy of Oneness.

The important thing about our early days of self-inquiry, and our budding desire for truth, is that we transform the inspiration gained into useful measures that will unfold the witness within us. If we do that, then we will find ourselves coming back to self-inquiry later on with much more clarity than we had in the beginning. So the approach that is suggested here is to inquire, be inspired, unfold the witness in daily deep meditation (see Lesson 13), and then inquire some more when the urge arises naturally from within us, as it surely will. This is an approach that is self-sustaining and will lead to much progress, peace and joy in life. 

It is the journey from inspiration to realization, and what we do in-between will make all the difference.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on the practical utilization of self-inquiry, see the Self-Inquiry book and the Liberation book, and AYP Plus.

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