I wonder how many have taken some time to consider the people and events in their lives that cause them the greatest emotional reactions. These, it will turn out, are your greatest teachers. That may seem like a bit of a stretch but on the path of relentless awareness characterized by self-inquiry everything warrants attention and the work begins and ends within. Your perception is the only thing you can control so that is where the game is won or lost.
The impetus behind self-inquiry is Advaita philosophy or non-dualism; in fact, self-inquiry is like applied non-dualism. The "two" implied by the term duality is everywhere in our lives. In any given moment in your life there is a "you" and an "other"; you are the subject and that which you are perceiving is the object. Duality is the on-going relative reality of subject-object. The suffering in your life is directly related to "the great misperception" of subject and object. The jump from duality to the non-dual perspective where the subject and the object collapse into the state of Oneness or the moment of NOW can seem elusive. Teachers like Eckart Tolle (who I think is awesome, by the way) have done a wonderful job presenting various frameworks for the process of crossing the chasm of duality. Essentially, any process or practice that facilitates the collapse of subject-object is a spiritual practice or yoga.
If Byron Katie is the Mother of Self-Inquiry (in her presence it is clear that she is the Mother) then the great Indian saint, Ramana Maharshi is the Father. He did not provide a detailed architecture of human perception nor did he create a multi-step path leading to the realization of the Oneness that he emanated in his life. Ramana Maharshi's path is the simplest and most direct of all self-inquiring systems. I will let him share his message with you in his words,
"By the inquiry 'Who am I?'.
The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre,
it will itself in the end get destroyed.
Then, there will arise Self-realization."
To practice this simplest form of self-inquiry one must simply pose the question, "Who am I?" within their own consciousness. This is not to be repeated mechanically but with an intense longing to discover the very source of the I-consciousness. This practice serves to turn the mind in on itself resulting in a concentrated state of awareness that, if sustained, may lead to liberation from duality or Self-realization. Stay tuned for our next blog, "From self-inquiry to Self-realization". The next time you catch yourself reacting to someone in your life try to be aware of the fact that you are really just reacting to your thought about that person.