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How to Recognize Relational
AYP Plus Additions:
356.1 - Wild Emotions
and Relational Self-Inquiry (Audio)
August 18, 2009
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
Q: How can I tell
relational self-inquiry versus the non-relational kind? It seems to me I am
witnessing my thoughts, but I have also had the impression that it is mind
watching mind. How can I tell
when it is the silent witness watching the mind orrelational,
as you call it?
A: A good way to recognize relational self-inquiry is in noticing what it is
not. If there is strain, expectation, intellectualizing, judgment,
frustration, headache, etc., those would be signs of non-relational
self-inquiry, and it is best to lighten up (self-pace) in those instances.
With the rise of inner silence (witness), those symptoms will be less
present, and we will simply be noticing thoughts and feelings to be objects
in our awareness, no longer classifying them or hanging on to them, no
longer seeing them as extensions of our self, or as "baggage" to be carried
around. They will be seen to be outside our sense of self. If inquiry is
increasingly joyful and luminous, through both "good times" and "bad times,"
we can be sure it is becoming relational. That is, released in stillness
For a progression of stages in self-inquiry, see Lesson
It is a long lesson, but one of the clearer ones so far on the various
stages and styles of self-inquiry.
The term "relational" was coined to identify the relationship between
abiding inner silence (the witness) and thoughts. That relationship
consummates with the natural release (letting go) of thoughts in stillness,
the blending of one into the other, which is also samyama. It is the basis
of effective self-inquiry, divine outpouring, stillness in action,
spontaneous siddhis (small and large), and freedom from the ups and downs of
this world, even as we remain active in it.
Prior to the rise of inner silence as an abiding presence, this relationship
cannot occur. Then it is thoughts interacting with thoughts with the
aforementioned problematic symptoms. The term for that is "non-relational,"
meaning thoughts not occurring in relationship to stillness. See Lesson
more on relational and non-relational self-inquiry.
The reason why these terms have been developed and emphasized in the lessons
on self-inquiry, is to clarify the essential point that self-inquiry is not
a viable practice without at least the beginnings of the witness stage. It
is not difficult to cultivate in deep meditation, but this is often ignored
in neo-advaita teachings. I say "neo-advaita" because if we dig a bit we
will find that the great advaita and jnana yoga teachers clearly recognized
the role of the witness, bhakti, and yoga practices. Modern neo-advaita is
prone to strip it all down to the bare logic and expect that to be an
effective "stand-alone" approach for everyone at every point on the path.
Clearly it is not.
So "relational" and "non-relational" have been born in an attempt to make as
clear as possible the distinction between self-inquiry with witness and
self-inquiry without witness. The experiences of many in the AYP community
of practitioners have verified the development of this dynamic through daily
yoga practices, with our inquiries moving steadily from non-relational to
relational. Whatever we may choose to call it, the shift is quite
noticeable. Many are delving into self-inquiry these days with pretty good
results, whereas, a few years ago it was, well, non-relational, and of less
relevance. That is changing as more and more practitioners are finding
abiding inner silence coming up in their lives. This is why we have been
focusing more on self-inquiry at this stage in the AYP lessons.
It would have made little sense in the beginning.
All things in their own good time.
As with any term that indicates a stage or milestone, we don't want to be turning
"relational" and "non-relational" into have and have-not labels. That is not
their purpose. The purpose is to inspire the continued favoring of daily
deep meditation (and samyama) when self-inquiry is not yet gaining traction.
If there were no clear guidance offered on this, there may be a tendency to
beat our head against the wall for a long time in thought-based only
succumb to frustration and drop spiritual practices altogether. We'd like to
avoid such scenarios, and so point to a more practical approach with clear navigation milestones
we can notice along the way. Then
we can pace our practices accordingly for best results.
The recent addition of a powerful self-inquiry sutra to core samyama
practice in Lesson
also for the purpose of helping smooth the transition from non-relational to
relational inquiry. This can be included as soon as we are able to undertake
core samyama practice, and it does not carry the risks of outright
non-relational self-inquiry, even if the presence of our abiding witness is
at an early stage.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
detailed discussion on the practical
utilization of self-inquiry, and on how to avoid ineffective uses of
self-inquiry, see the
and the Liberation book,
and AYP Plus.