Reality 98: Self-Inquiry – (Atma Vichara) [contnued]
Sri Ramana Maharshi summed up Self-Inquiry in the concise phrase, "Who am I ?" He stated that the seeker of Self-Realization could directly realize Liberation from the un-real bondage by Self-Inquiry, with each experience & notion, "For whom is this ?" This approach negates the Identity or Reality from the objective aspect & returns it to that which is inward, the Subject. Then, recognizing that whatever it is, it is for "me". one should Self-Inquire, "Who am I ?" This is the inner discerning of the True Nature of one's Being, which is to be practiced with a keen awareness. The determination of the answer to the Self-Inquiry cannot be in sensorial or conceptual terms, but is realized by the elimination of all definition, the dissolution of confusion regarding Reality, & the destruction of the Ego. Self-Inquiry reveals the invalid nature of all personal definitions, the Formless nature of Reality, & that the Ego is nothing but a false assumption whose nature is non–existence. When all that is un-real, not the Self, is removed, the Real Self alone remains in its own Knowledge of itself – Self-Knowledge, which is devoid of such differentiation as the Knower, the Knowing,, & the Known.
The Self-Inquiry is the essential practice. The success of any spiritual practice in yielding freedom & Peace is directly proportionate to the relinquishment of misidentification, the dissolution of the Ego or false notion of individuality, that occurs in it. Self-Inquiry may be practiced by itself as the direct means to Self-Knowledge, a way that does not include any of the dualism that one is attempting to transcend.
Since ancient times, instruction in the path of Knowledge has been given, &, in the course of this, certain excellent supports for Self-Inquiry have been elucidated by the wise. These are actually more than supports; rather they are integral to the whole experience of inquiring to know the Self. In Advaita Vedanta, they have been referred to as the requisites for Realization or the fourfold-sadhana (practice) for Realization or Liberation. Although one can see references to these in numerous texts in many traditions, as what they refer to are more universal than specific to a particular people, place, or time, it is Adi Sankara, who expounded the clearest teachings of Non-Duality & Self-Knowledge, known as Advaita Vedanta, who has most clearly stated them, in both brief & elaborated form, in several of the texts composed by him. During the many centuries that have followed Sri Sankara’s elucidation of Self-Knowledge, the discriminating Self-Inquiry, & these requisites, until the present day, these practices related to the attainment of Knowledge have served aspirants well as they dissolved the illusion of ignorant dualism & its consequent bondage & suffering & realized the natural state of the Self, Brahman, which is pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss.
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"There is no Creation, no Destruction, no Bondage, no longing to be freed from Bondage, no striving for Liberation, nor anyone who has attained Liberation. Know that this to be Ultimate Truth."
– the "no creation"
, Shankara, Ramana, school of Gaudapada Nome – Ajata Vada
for very succinct summary of the teaching & practice, see: www.ajatavada.com/