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Styles of Self-Inquiry and
Bridging the Gap (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
326.1 - Self-Inquiry
During Deep Meditation? (Audio)
The Fulfillment of Affirmations in Stillness (Audio)
April 30, 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
It is a paradox that we can talk about styles
when at the root of it all there is really only one thing going on the
identification of our native unconditioned awareness with the objects we
experience as thinking, feeling and perceptions of the world within
us. Nevertheless, there are many styles of self-inquiry, because there are
so many ways that our mind can entangle us in the experience of persona, or
Self-inquiry can be as simple as asking the question, "Who am I?" and
letting it go in stillness. If we are sincere in that, the truth will come
in time. Simple. On the other hand, it can be as complex as continually
dissecting the endless
expressions of our mind occurring in daily life, observing the non-reality
of the stories that are constantly being spun to create an identity in the
world of time and space. Is this the truth of what we are?
Whether we take a simple approach or a complex one, it always boils down to
one thing: Are we aware? Are we aware and witnessing what is happening
behind and beyond the structures our mind is creating in this moment? If so,
even a little, we will be in the present and
radiating a natural happiness, rather than lost in an imaginary past or
future. And if not, then the rat race will continue as long as we identify
with the constructs of the mind, avoiding the peace that is always available
for us in the present moment.
To be in the present is to be nobody and everybody. The mind does not know
what to do with that, except build more structures and stories around it it,
and then we are lost in the illusion of time again. But
the mind can be transcended and transformed from master to servant. The
truth will prevail. So,
keeping that in mind, let's list several styles of self-inquiry and see how
any or all of them can help us unravel things to reveal a continuous
realization of who we are in the present:
Who am I? What am I doing here?
Is my story true? Are my current reactions true?
I am That. You are That. All this is That.
God is with me. I will survive this crisis.
Nothing is real. Ego-self is false. All is empty awareness.
This event or thing is not real. Not this, not this (neti, neti).
Feeling the pain of the world without judgment.
Feeling the pain in my body/mind without judgment.
5. Enjoying (without
Feeling the Oneness of All. Letting go in That.
Feeling the ecstatic bliss of the body. Enjoying the outpouring heart.
We could come up with more examples
in style, but you get the idea. Many volumes have been written on styles of
self-inquiry. There are as many approaches as there are spiritual teachers
and practitioners. No doubt you have seen some of the ones listed above, and
perhaps have "practiced" a few of them. After some initial inspiration,
maybe it led to a sense of frustration? Perhaps you are entertaining them
again? Will they work now, or will the mind be playing with itself again?
The question is, Who is entertaining these styles of self-inquiry? If it is a
name like Bob
or Sue who is inquiring, it will be non-relational (not
based in the witness),
and will lead
to that sense of being stuck mind inquiring about mind. If it is this man,
this woman, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, these will all lead
to frustration. There will be a gap.
Who then can entertain these things and find some practicalbenefit?
The witness, the unconditioned awareness that is you beyond all the labels.
The experiencer who is beyond all definitions of what we are. Unconditioned
awareness. Abiding inner silence. The witness.
It has been claimed that inquiry itself will reveal the
witness. The simple act of observing the identification of awareness in the
mind as untrue "self"
will bring out the witness. Perhaps, but if it were that simple, would we be
seeing so much ignorance and
the world today? So
many want to move beyond all that. Clearly
a gap remains, a certain something that stands between non-relational and
relational self-inquiry. It is a habit, a deeply ingrained habit, beyond our
conscious thinking the hidden tendency
of the mind to create separation in everything it does, including its own
self-inquiry. It has also been called embedded obstruction/impurity in our
nervous system. So how do we move beyond getting stuck in inquiries? Beyond
getting stuck in affirmations? Beyond getting stuck in discriminations,
stuck in allowing, and stuck in enjoying. How do we move beyond getting
stuck in the dysfunctional habits of the subconscious mind?
If you think this is going to be another pitch for daily deep meditation,
you are right. But we have beat that drum plenty of times already in
previous lessons on self-inquiry, so let's assume you have it in hand, and
are cultivating abiding inner silence (the witness) daily. Then what? How
will we know we are ready for some effective self-inquiry? How can we begin
to bridge the gap?
Interestingly, how self-inquiry feels is an indication of how much work we
must do in cultivating the witness by other means. Once we have some abiding
quality of the witness, we will notice more traction in all areas of
self-inquiry. Self-inquiry will be getting easier, and life will be getting
better. Which style(s) of self-inquiry we use will be a matter of
preference, and this will be influenced by the lifestyle we are living.
Whatever our daily experience is will determine where our inquiries,
affirmations, discriminations, etc. will occur. The possibilities are
endless, but the underlying principles are the
same. So attend to the basics, and the rest will follow.
One of the first places we will notice our ability to inquire effectively
will be in how we relate to sensations arising in our body. Due to the
mind/body connection, all thinking and feeling have corresponding
reflections in our body, which we can experience directly as
In some cases it is obvious. Have you ever known anyone who has literally
worried themselves sick?
Less obvious to others will be the hidden emotional and physical discomforts
we experience every day as the result of dysfunctional egocentric thinking.
If we are able to be with these physical sensations without labeling,
without judgment, as the witness, then we can experience an unwinding, and a
sense of release. Not only will the symptom go, but so too will the
dysfunction behind it gradually dissolve over multiple times we apply this
method. This is self-inquiry of the "allowing" kind. It is popular these
days, because it is being found to be increasing
in effectiveness as
world consciousness rises with a greater presence of native awareness in
everyone. It is one of the easiest ways to systematically take advantage of
the emerging witness in daily living.
In fact, we began with this form of self-inquiry way back in the early days
of AYP, when we learned deep meditation. It is a process we can use during
deep meditation if we become so overwhelmed with thoughts, feelings or
physical sensations that we are not able to easily come back to the mantra.
the initial instructions on this.
Likewise, in daily activity, when we experience a sensation of mental,
emotional or physical discomfort, we can easily allow our attention to be
with it without analysis or labeling. Invariably
it can be located in the body, and we can just easily be with that
will find that doing this can lead to the feeling of
"something dissolving" inside, followed by a sense of release and joy. So
without getting too involved with dissecting everything the mind may be
conjuring up that is not in our best interest, we have a tool already built
in for normalizing the far-reaching effects of dysfunctional thinking.
With cultivating the witness in deep meditation, and beginning to allow
ourselves to experience our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations in
daily activity without judgment, we have the beginnings of a practical
approach to self-inquiry. It
is a natural outcome of our practice. With
this, we can begin to bridge the gap between non-relational and relational
there, we can add additional elements of inquiry that suit our needs. Once
it gets started, self-inquiry will develop naturally, and the mind will go
through an evolution to higher functioning in support of our emerging
enlightenment. We will look at that in the next lesson.
Meanwhile, how we
build on our beginning in self-inquiry is up to us. We will no doubt be
drawn to study and, in time, find our own path of self-inquiry that is
compatible with our inclinations and lifestyle. No one can tell us exactly
what that will be,
and we will be wise to avoid mimicking the pronouncements of others. In
self-inquiry it does not work. That is why you will not find many
pronouncements here about how you must view the world. We willfind out for
Our seeking is a form of self-inquiry also, the journey of our unfoldment.
If we persist in that, we will bridge
the gap and come
to experience the truth in everything we do, which is the radiant eternal
joy of living
in the present.
The guru is in you.
Lessons Topic Path
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utilization of self-inquiry, and how to avoid ineffective uses of
self-inquiry, see the
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