Self Inquiry

Posted on May 26, 2017

Meditation is focussing of attention, and there are many different meditation styles, many possible focus points. You can focus your attention on your breath, the steady rhythm of rising and falling of the chest. You can focus your attention on the gaps between the thoughts that arise in you. You can focus your attention on a mantra, such as Om Namah Shivaya, until it becomes softer and softer. If it gets lost you return to Om Namah Shivaya, uttering the name of Shiva again, to feel the Divine Presence. You can focus your attention on the voice of someone who is telling a story to guide your meditation. With practice, you can also focus your attention on the pounding of your heart.

Self Inquiry, as recommended by Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950), is putting the focus of attention on Awareness itself, on your very sense of Being. The key question is “Who am I?” Another way of asking the same question is “To whom does all this manifest itself?” As in meditation, linger on that question, returning to it time and again. If a thought comes up, ask yourself, “To whom does that thought occur?”. If you notice a tree, ask yourself, “Who is it that is noticing this tree?”

This way of questioning will gradually, or suddenly, cause a shift in your awareness. You will start to sense, or suddenly realize, that there is something that is always there, has always been there, will always be there. Something that you may previously have overlooked, but that, now that it has been pointed out to you, is completely obvious.

This is not a mystical experience. Not a big deal also, in a sense. No pomp and circumstance. No sudden blazing light. Instead, you are turning your attention from the light to the See-er of the light. You suddenly see that previously you were confused about who You are. You are not your body, but You are aware of your body. You are not your brain, but You can turn your attention to your brain, or to the functioning of your brain. You are not your emotions, but You can become more and more aware of what moves you inside. You are not your thoughts, but You can become more and more aware of your thoughts, of how they arise and where they arise from. Gradually, you will learn to trace your thoughts back to their Source. Thus you arrive at a place where there is Silence, the Silence that You are.