I wonder how many have taken some time to consider the people and events in their lives that cause them the greatest emotional reactions. These, it will turn out, are your greatest teachers. That may seem like a bit of a stretch but on the path of relentless awareness characterized by self-inquiry everything warrants attention and the work begins and ends within. Your perception is the only thing you can control so that is where the game is won or lost.
The impetus behind self-inquiry is Advaita philosophy or non-dualism; in fact, self-inquiry is like applied non-dualism. The "two" implied by the term duality is everywhere in our lives. In any given moment in your life there is a "you" and an "other"; you are the subject and that which you are perceiving is the object. Duality is the on-going relative reality of subject-object. The suffering in your life is directly related to "the great misperception" of subject and object. The jump from duality to the non-dual perspective where the subject and the object collapse into the state of Oneness or the moment of NOW can seem elusive. Teachers like Eckart Tolle (who I think is awesome, by the way) have done a wonderful job presenting various frameworks for the process of crossing the chasm of duality. Essentially, any process or practice that facilitates the collapse of subject-object is a spiritual practice or yoga.
If Byron Katie is the Mother of Self-Inquiry (in her presence it is clear that she is the Mother) then the great Indian saint, Ramana Maharshi is the Father. He did not provide a detailed architecture of human perception nor did he create a multi-step path leading to the realization of the Oneness that he emanated in his life. Ramana Maharshi's path is the simplest and most direct of all self-inquiring systems. I will let him share his message with you in his words,
"By the inquiry 'Who am I?'.
The thought 'who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre,
it will itself in the end get destroyed.
Then, there will arise Self-realization."
To practice this simplest form of self-inquiry one must simply pose the question, "Who am I?" within their own consciousness. This is not to be repeated mechanically but with an intense longing to discover the very source of the I-consciousness. This practice serves to turn the mind in on itself resulting in a concentrated state of awareness that, if sustained, may lead to liberation from duality or Self-realization. Stay tuned for our next blog, "From self-inquiry to Self-realization". The next time you catch yourself reacting to someone in your life try to be aware of the fact that you are really just reacting to your thought about that person.
Susan Kahn writes...
My primary site is www.NondualPointing.com. It includes an interview of my work as a Nondual Psychotherapist with Scott Kiloby and I'll be adding some video soon too. I use many different paths, but emphasize the Direct Path of Atmananda Krishna Menon on my site.
I also host the website www.NondualPoetry.com where I post nondual poetry and writings.
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Here is a sample of Susan's poetry:
Song Of Emptiness
There is movement in stillness,
A blossoming of emptiness.
All hope binds the infinite heart.
No need for it here.
In the peace of this divine space,
A white cloud would clamor.
To this joy of Being,
There is the light of eternity alone.
It is silence that truly sings,
Before the world is dreamt.
No thought can know
This invisible truth.
No earth dream
Can touch this aliveness.
Mind is a great prison
Invented and owned by 'I'
Silence this phantom thought.
Beyond the veil of concept
Emptiness is singing.
Death Is Love
This that never was,
This that cannot be known
Or seen or felt,
Lives silently as the formless heart.
Even appearing shadows
And the lightness of air,
Cannot touch the emptiness
Of always and never.
The death of all that is believed
Opens the one heart
Beyond all imagined fields and skies.
For both grand and subtle things
Are always limited,
But what cannot be named
Never started and has no end.
To die to the grip of mental pictures,
To all you believe you know,
Is to see who you really are,
That you are existence,
That you are inexhaustibly here.
For the death of every grain of a thing
Reveals this formless life, this one true home,
Where love is present as itself
And has no reasons.
Poem title by Scott Kiloby
Poem verses by Susan Kahn
Infinitely here, infinitely itself,
Yet immeasurably outpouring.
This undivided field of now.
Singular and endless simultaneously,
Innocent and fresh beyond dawn.
I have held the mind's breath to die here,
Only to remain indestructibly This.
Unseen luminosity voices
This choir of silent emptiness,
This that is not created or imagined,
This one undying Self.
Voice Of Summer Light
There is an empty sound
That reaches through the summer sky,
Like the faded call of a grand horn.
Low and high notes of a phantom echo
Wind absently through the air,
Yet dwell in great stillness.
The sound of summer
Is the sound of forever,
Beyond all dreams of the mind.
Beneath the vibrant grain of light
Lies a still presence that is its voice.
Undivided, it reaches everywhere,
Even down to the low plains.
There a mind drifts in phantom thought,
Faded in the burning, blurring sun
That overtakes its field.
The heavens have lowered,
In an endless span of golden heat
That dissolves all passing time.
And as light consumes surrendered trees,
The still forever of summer speaks.