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Alternate Sutra for Self-Inquiry
August 13, 2009
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: I wanted to clarify that in the "Adding Self-Inquiry to Core Samyama"
lesson (#351) you mentioned using "I-thought Who am
I?" Would "I-thought What am
I?" work just the same? I don't resonate with
"who" as much as I do with "what".
There is another question I have about samyama in general. At the end of
samyama, a daily practice of mine is to contemplate or sit in silence and go
deep into the source of "I" or beingness for a couple of minutes. Why does
AYP choose touch and release (samyama) over going deep into something
particularly in relation to inquiry? Is it a question of style or long term
A: The sutras, "I-thought Who am
I?" and "I-thought What am
I?" are equivalent. The one to use in relation to Lesson
351 is the one that most
resonates with you.
"Who am I?" has been specified because it is the more common way of
expressing the inquiry. Indeed, we have been using this phrase since early
in the AYP lessons in relation to bhakti, which is a key part of
self-inquiry also (Lesson 349). An equivalent phrase
that resonates for the practitioner is also acceptable. We want to
accomplish two things with this sutra in structured core samyama tag the
I-thought, and inquire its source.
Who can say whether the Self is a who or a what? It is unknowable in the
mind. We can only know by Self-realization, which is beyond the mind. And
then it cannot be clearly described. All self-inquiry methods are for
bootstrapping from the witness
stage to Self-realization
through intentions released in stillness.
Whichever sutra you choose in relation to the instructions on core samyama
in Lesson 351 and Lesson
150, it is suggested to stay with it, as it takes time for any sutra to
"bake in" with daily samyama practice. This is how our habit of samyama goes
deeper, and then naturally expresses as we release our intentions and
inquiries increasingly in stillness in daily life. This is why we do
On your second question about contemplation of the source of "I," this is a
different practice. It is a good one ("jnana-transcending" per Lesson
350), and is best engaged in outside structured samyama. Soon after is
fine if this is your habit. The objective of adding the new sutra to core
samyama is to provide an easily incorporated additional tool for
strengthening any self-inquiry we may be doing in daily life. It requires a
minimal modification in procedure to current core samyama practice, and can
bring a large additional benefit in results.
It should be mentioned that "touch and release" is "deep" in
well-established structured samyama practice, where the sutras are well
baked in. It is through daily structured samyama practice that we increase
our ability to be immediately
in stillness with all our
intentions and inquiries during the day. It is the same cultivation
find in structured daily deep meditation, which increases the presence of
abiding inner silence (the witness) in daily activity. We don't engage in
structured practice for its own sake. We do it for the condition it
cultivates outside practice while we are engaged in normal activity.
We are aiming to strengthen the connection between structured yoga practice
and our normal daily activity. The field of yoga has been somewhat remiss in
doing this with self-inquiry, leaving jnana yoga off as a sort of
step-child, even though the path of yoga cannot be complete until it leads
us through jnana to direct knowledge/experience of who/what we are. This is
the stage of the journey that goes beyond the witness to unity/liberation, and
There is a lot to be said for having a portion of our structured daily
practice that brings this kind of benefit into daily life, where things tend
to be less structured. We already know that core samyama cultivates
stillness in action. Now we are strengthening it for jnana.
By building an advanced element of self-inquiry into core samyama, we will
be cultivating that capability in daily living, and be less inclined to be
walking around all day tending to distract ourselves. We won't have to worry
about it, because self-inquiry in stillness will become more a natural part
of our life by virtue of sitting practices alone. This is not to replace
self-inquiry as we may choose to approach
it in daily life.
It is only that we are bringing in reinforcements. Kind of like the cavalry,
you know. Stillness galloping over the hill to the rescue!
The guru is in you.
See this complete instructional lesson and all the expanded and interactive AYP Plus lessons at:
Samyama Related Lessons Topic Path
Self-Inquiry Related Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed
instructions on samyama practice, covering advanced applications and
self-directed research, see the
AYP Samyama book
and the Liberation book,
and AYP Plus.