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Is Self-Inquiry Necessary for
AYP Plus Additions:
398.1 - Is it
Necessary to Do Structured Self-Inquiry? (Audio)
Reconciling Non-Dual Self-Inquiry with Engaging in the World (Audio)
May 4, 2010
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q1: Since, as a consequence of regular daily long term practice of the core
practices of AYP, all doubts we might have regarding the "Truth" will
eventually get cleared intuitively, is there any real need to actively
engage in "Self-Inquiry" formally?
If self-inquiry is practiced, and
if, as indicated in your writings, self-inquiry is effective only if it is
"relational," and done after the "dawn of the witness," would it not be
better to do it after Deep Meditation and during Samyama formally? I do
questions for self-inquiry can
also arise any time, and one should not have to wait until one sits for
practices to address them.
A1: If a serious meditator using an
effective daily practice never gives self-inquiry a second thought, it will
happen anyway, because it is perceptual naturally seeing all objects from
the point of view of rising inner silence (the witness) more and more,
seeing clearly that no object of perception can be the subject. Who or what
then is the subject? When that
kind of perception
is happening, one "notices," and that is automatic inquiry. Noticing
the objects of perception in stillness is enough to advance the process of
non-dual enlightenment. It may become structured self-inquiry, or not,
depending on the background and inclination of the practitioner.
is why, in the AYP writings, a particular mode of self-inquiry is not put
forth as "the method." Once the witness is coming up, perception will become
relational (in stillness), and from there the approach will be quite
personal, depending on the practitioner's ishta (chosen ideal) and resonance
found with one or more approaches to self-inquiry, or no structured approach
at all. This range of possibilities for self-inquiry was covered in
Lesson 350, on the various ways one may move beyond
the witness/object relationship into direct experience of non-duality.
Regarding structured practice,
Lesson 351 provides an easy and effective way to
engage in structured relational self-inquiry as part of our daily samyama
practice, just as you suggest, with no mess and no
fuss. It is a good place to start self-inquiry if we are well-established in
core samyama practice. It gets right down to it releasing the most basic
inquiry in stillness: "I-thought Who am I?"
time, this practice leads to an intuitive sense of relational self-inquiry
during daily activity, without accumulating a lot of non-relational mental
baggage to be carried around all day long. We become the automatic inquiry
in motion, which is stillness in action, the non-dual condition.
Q2: Thank you. I just a did a quick first reading of the Self-Inquiry book.
It is amazing how "logical" the whole thing looks now. I do not know whether
this is covered anywhere in our Indian scriptures like this, but you have
done a terrific job of clarifying how all the eight limbs of Yoga can be
connected in practice. How did we miss this?
A2: AYP is a fresh look at venerable spiritual approaches across the
board, minus the traditional boundaries and limitations. Someone had to do
it sometime. Why not us? And why not now?
If we dig into jnana and
advaita teachings, we find that meditation and yoga have always been
regarded as preparations for self-inquiry. It can be found in the teachings
of both Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj, two 20th century giants of
jnana/advaita, though hardly at all in the teachings of their many
It has been a bit of a shadow game the great advaita
teachers played, speaking and writing
uncompromising immutability of the non-dual nature of existence, while at
the same time looking the other way, or outright encouraging practitioners
to engage in the systematic methods of yoga. This contradictory approach has
been confusing for many practitioners, often misleading them to believe that
they must "walk the talk" of non-duality before they really can. It leads to
what we have called "non-relational self-inquiry," lacking abiding inner
silence (witness), and a formula for building thought-form castles in the
While the truth of the interconnectedness of yoga and advaita
has always been there, it has been obscured, perhaps because the methods of
practice have not been very effective on either side of the dual versus
non-dual philosophical divide for large numbers of people.
few who manage to make it through this contradictory approach are the ones
who are ripe and ready to fall off the tree anyway. Then, generally, they
teach from that perspective of ripeness, with few, if any, systematic yoga
practices recommended, which does not reach the vast majority of people who
are yet to become ripe. This is essentially a denial of what is, in favor of
the teacher's perspective: The proverbial forgetful mountain climber (see
The more flexible advaita teachers
do get this in time, and end up teaching meditative practices of one kind or
other in an attempt to fill in the gap between the majority of their
followers and the condition of ripeness (abiding witness) necessary for
engaging in effective non-dual self-inquiry. Less flexible advaita teachers
just keep hammering away at their followers with non-duality concepts,
sometimes accompanied by bursts of shaktipat energy, which can be a rather
In AYP, we put the entire process in the
practitioner's hands, with lots of tools and self-pacing guidelines
available. By utilizing effective daily practices and the unique
experiential track of the practitioner, where the regulation of practices
and measure of progress are according to direct experience rather than
arbitrary external guidelines, we are finding many people experiencing the
natural emergence of relational self-inquiry, with results that are quite
fruitful. With effective tools, each will find it for themselves. Spiritual
unfoldment on that basis is real, as many have verified.
And why not?
Yoga has always been an integrated experience-based (scientific) approach.
It is the unruly mind that has tended to dis-integrate it into
conceptualizations of little value. Yoga is very smart about taking us
beyond the mental mish-mash to ripeness, and beyond...
The guru is in you.
Lessons Topic Path
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
detailed discussion on the practical
utilization of self-inquiry on our path, see the
and the Liberation book,
and AYP Plus.