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 The Practice of Self-Enquiry

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 The Practice of Self-Enquiry
by Atman Nityananda 

The practice of Self-enquiry has as purpose to make the mind return inside and abide it in its source (Consciousness). The mind by the power of desire and rajas and tamas gunas compulsively runs towards objects and identifies with them as well as with its own imaginations, opinions, beliefs and the associated with them emotions. In order to stop this outgoing tendency of the mind and make it abide in the Self within we apply this very simple but at the same time very demanding practice by questioning the mind and enquiring the source of the mind or the ego,Thus, every time a thought, an emotion, a desire, a like or dislike, an atraction or aversion arises in you then inquire to whom these thoughts (emotions, desires etc.) arise by asking your self:

To whom do these thoughts arise? or To whom do these emotions or desire, like etc. arise?This question will brings you back in a state of alertness and atention, and naturally the answer in these questions is that the thoughts or emotions etc. arise to meIn this point you have two options to continue the process. They are similar but they have some differences.

First option

First you ask: To whom do these thoughts arise? or To whom do these emotions or desire, like etc. arise?

The answer: the thoughts or emotions etc. arise to me

After this answer you ask yourself:  Is this Me or  I-sense my real Self?  Is this I-sense, what I really am? 

After asking this question put all your attention on this sense of I or Me to be fully conscious of it. Be attentive in order to realize where exactly do you feel this I-sense. In which part of your body you feel this I-sense. Focus your mind on this I-sense and observe it carefully. It is important to stay focused, concentrated and scrutinize the I-sense carefully.

It is obvious that in the beginning you will feel strongly that you are this I-sense and that you identify (as you always did) this I-sense with body, viz. you will experience that the body is your identity. This is natural. The important thing is to stay calmly focused on this I-sense trying to be more and more conscious of its nature.

Remain patiently focused on the I-sense scrutinizing and investigating its nature. If you have the capacity to remain focused on it (on the I-sense) without the mind to run away from the point of concentration, gradually will be created a distance from it. It will also come forth a field of a silent space (which will be obvious to you) and which will surround this I-sense. In this state instead of being fully indentified with the I-sense it will be created a distance from it and at the same time you will experience clearly a silent space together with the I-sense.

The psychological distance from the I-sense will enable you to observe this I-sense in the same way you can observe an external object, thus you will have the oportunity to investigate it, to know it and understand it profoundly.Another thing you can do, is to change alternately the focus of attention  between the I-sense and the silence. You can do this many times (to focus your mind for a while on the I-sense and then to the silence). You can do this for a long time as a play  in order to investigate and discriminate with precision the nature of the I-sense, the nature of the silent space. You can also be aware how the attention moves from the one to the other, how the I-sense identifies with the body, the thoughts, the emotions etc..

There are many things you can investigate and be aware of, by observing and discriminating carefully the I-sense, the play of mind, the sensations and feelings and the silent space which pervades all these mental forms and sensations.Τhe centre of self-inquiry is to focus your attention in the silence within in order to disidentify from the mind and realize the silence as your true identity. You must turn your attention totally (and you have to do it in order to realize your true identity) on the silence in order to investigate its nature and deepen in it. When you become more focused and conscious of this silent space you can note or discern that when you put your attention on the silence, happens a unification of the attention with this silence. In this case you may realize that you are more in a state of being this silence, than in a state of concentrating on the silence. 

Second option

When we are conscious of a thought an emotion or the I-sense you do the following questions:

To whom do these thoughts arise? or  To whom do these emotions or desire, like etc. arise? or to whom the I-sense arise?By doing these questions you will come in a state of greater alertness and presence. This will enable you to disindetify from the thought, the emotion etc. And continue with the following question:

What is the source of these thoughts or emotions or the I-sense?By questioning which is the source of the egoic patterns you try to seek its source by focusing the attention inside you. If you do it gently and without effort then the opportunity arises to come forth and become obvious to you this space of silent. Stay with this silence and be with it as much as possible. If you can stay focused on it without distractions of the mind then all the external sensations and body sensations will fade and you will be more and more absorbed in this silence. By remaining well focused in the silence within you can pass from a state of concentration in a state of unification, a state of being this silence; You will be in a state of Being this silence yet without to have this sense of I or Iness viz. The sense I am this silence. The silence IS and this silence that has not any sense of I or Me is our real identity.It is certain that we cannot create intentionally the awakening, that´s to say the realization that we are the silence itself and not the ego or I, but this will happen when the conditions will be mature and by the grace of God. 


You have to do the same process each time the mind is distracted and an egoic pattern is in play. Of course this requires a great degree of motivation and interest to do it and at the same time a great degree of alertness because without this you will be easily identified with the egoic patterns and will be hypnotized by them.While you are in a state of alertness each time the mind is distracted by thoughts, emotions or sensations you must ask again:

To whom do these thoughts arise? or To whom do these emotions or desire, like etc. arise? or to whom this I-sense arise?and then then you will follow the option 1 or 2If you practice for a long time seriously the answer: the thoughts, emotions etc. arise to me it is not any longer necessary.You will pass directly from the questions to the state disidentification from the thought, emotion etc. and you will be conscious of the silent space within.In this state you can choose to investigate either the egoic pattern or to concentrate in the silent within ignoring the ego.

This Self-Inquiry practice mentioned here is based on the Self-Inquiry suggested by Sri Ramana Maharshi. You can read about Sri Ramana’s Self-Inquiry, as well as other articles on Self-Inquiry in my older blog in the links below: