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The Witness as
Underlying Cause of Self-Inquiry
April 16, 2009
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
While we may often hear that enlightenment is an absolute condition which
can be realized immediately by using absolute measures, this is fiction for
the vast majority of people. It is an attractive proposition for the mind.
We could even say that it is intellectually and emotionally seductive. But
it is fiction all the same. Taking such thinking too seriously may lead us
to one-dimensional or extremist approaches that can delay our spiritual
progress rather than enhance it.
There is a middle way.
As soon as we come to the realization that enlightenment is an
journey rather than an instant event, we will open to the possibilities,
and practical strategies will be revealed to us from all sides. It is
amazing how that works. If we remain open, we will find that an intelligent
integration of effective methods can bring us to realize what we have been
seeking, and with far less difficulty. Paradoxically, the multifold path is
the path of least doing, and certainly the one of least angst. This is the
great secret of yoga.
Could it be that simple?
The AYP approach to self-inquiry is to integrate it naturally into our life
a bit at a time as part of our overall routine of practices and resulting
spiritual unfoldment. Self-inquiry is what we have the option to do as we go
about enhancing our normal every day life between our twice-daily sittings
of structured practices. Self-inquiry of this kind is less structured and
highly individual. It may draw on different teachings at different times.
There is benefit in being eclectic. However, there are several levels of
application in self-inquiry which are essential to understand, mainly so we
can stay in synchronization with our own spiritual progress and avoid the
undue strains of getting stuck. It is important to pace our practices to
accommodate the changes that are occurring within us. This applies to
self-inquiry as much as any other practice we are utilizing. We will explore
this in the upcoming lessons.
We will be systematic in our approach, but not issuing
instructions for self-inquiry. There are plenty of cookbook (formula)
approaches out there already. Real self-inquiry is beyond the methods of the
mind. It is in the realm of the witness. Therefore, our practice will be
determined more-so by our inner unfoldment than
by any mental procedure we
may apply. Our inner unfoldment is the cause of refinements in mental
procedure, not the other way around. This is a progressive and safe approach
to spiritual development, assuming we are working with the underlying
principles of human spiritual transformation and integrating time-tested
techniques. We will be doing many things in order to be doing nothing in the
stillness of our inner awareness.
The primary aim of self-inquiry is to remain established in the
unconditioned inner silence that resides within all of us, that is us. The
experiencer: the witness to all thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the
body and external phenomena. Self-inquiry seeks to dissolve the
identification of awareness with all of these perceptions that are external
to our unconditioned awareness. The traditional wisdom holds that the
abiding presence of the witness (unconditioned awareness) will be the
effect of self-inquiry. Under certain circumstances, it can be, and this
is the aim of those who pursue self-inquiry as a stand-alone path. All of
the various strategies (mental algorithms) of self-inquiry are for
However, it is also true that the presence of the silent witness is the
cause of self-inquiry, and this is a more fundamental truth. Being is
more fundamental than any doing we can conceive of. When the witness is
present, a natural inclination toward self-inquiry becomes self-evident. The
mind simply follows That. The innate condition of the practitioner
as the witness becomes the answer to every inquiry the eternal
stillness that does nothing, even as life carries on in all of its
diversity, with us fully engaged in it in an illuminated condition. Once the
witness is present, self-inquiry becomes automatic. The witness is both the
fuel and the destination of self-inquiry. Self-inquiry without abiding inner
silence, the witness, is like a house without a foundation, or like a castle
built in the air. Those who engage in self-inquiry without some experience
in meditation know what this is like. Not fun for long.
Therefore, in the AYP approach, we seek to cultivate the witness first
by the most effective means at our disposal. We begin by establishing our
practice of daily deep meditation (see Lesson 13). In
doing so, we insure the fruition of all we undertake in self-inquiry, and
our permanent realization of the truth. We are then on the path of becoming
that which we seek. With a clear recognition of this "cause and effect"
relationship, with cultivation of the witness as cause, we find ourselves in
an increasingly advantageous position to pursue any system of self-inquiry
with good results.
The guru is in you.
Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed instructions on deep meditation
for cultivating the witness, see the
AYP Deep Meditation book.
For detailed discussion on how the rise of the witness
results in practical self-inquiry, see the
and the Liberation book.