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How to do Self Enquiry?

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi

#. How is one to enquire: "Who am I"?

Actions such as "going" and "coming" belong only to the body. And so, when one says, "I" went, "I" came, it amounts to saying that the body is "I". But can the body be said to be the consciousness "I". It cannot be, since it was not there before it was born, is made up of the five elements, is non-existent in the state of deep sleep, and becomes a corpse when dead? Can this body which is inert like a log of wood be said to shine as "I-I"?

Therefore the "I-consciousness" which at first rises in respect of the body is referred to variously as egoity, nescience, impurity, and individual soul. Can we remain without enquiring into this? Is it not for our redemption through enquiry that all the scriptures declare that the destruction of ego is release?

Therefore, making the corpse body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word "I", one should enquire keenly thus: "Now, what is it that rises as "I"?

Then there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form "I-I". It is there and would shine of its own accord, as the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared.

If one remains quiescent without abandoning that experience, the individual sense of the form "I am the body" will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, the "I-form" also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor. The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.

#. What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought "Who am I?"

When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them, but one should enquire:
"To whom did they arise?"

It does not matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises, one should enquire with diligence,
"To whom has this thought arisen?"

The answer that would emerge would be, "To me".

Thereupon if one enquires "Who am I?" the mind will go back to its source; and the thought that arose will become quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind will develop the skill to stay in its source. Not letting the mind go out but retaining it in the Heart is what is called "inwardness". Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as "externalisation". Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the "I" which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine.
Whatever one does, one should do without the egoity "I". If one acts in that way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva.

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Last updated on Mar-2024

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