For some times I have watched many Facebook people trading “verbal” pointers with each other and receiving applauding comments from readers. The quotes and comments are usually about thoughts vis-a-vis appearances of the world, experience as the desiderata of truth, identification with thinking or the body, the impermanence of thought, the deconstruction of the mind, and also about the cognizing and existence.
But all of this is on a superficial level of concepts about mind and reality. It is mind speaking to mind, engaging intellectual analysis of concepts and phenomena.
In fact, no deep understanding or attainment can come from this, because the mind itself is false and consciousness is not real in any ultimate sense.
All the great teachers, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Robert Adams place extraordinary emphasis on self-inquiry, which also seems often confused with the repetitious use of the query, “Who am I?,” repeated endlessly with respect to thoughts and emotions and percepts.
However, this is not self-inquiry. Self inquiry means isolating the sense of I Am, the sense that we exist, the sense of amness, or the sense of I, focus on it, probe it with the mind, and learn every aspect of its nature. By such familiarity we gain an understanding of the experience of I Am, which gradually has to be teased away from the experience of the body and world, which is a false appearance. We must experience I Am, the first person, as ourself, completely without the distortion of the world and body presence, the projected waking world. That is how the personal mind is dissolved, by seeing through the falseness of the world consciousness, the waking mind, the body and dreamworld, not by intellectual analysis of the relation between thoughts and objects, neither of which have “real” existence.
This inward investigation and abiding in the sense of I Am leads to an automatic relinquishing of the world, and an automatic, downwards spiraling into one’s true self nature. The deeper you go, the happier you become, making it easier it is to go deeper because of the increasing happiness and love felt. There is a growing love to abide silently in one’s self and not turn outside. You become increasingly happy doing nothing but attending to your own subjectivity. This takes the mind deeper and makes it more subtle, seeing distinctions missing before.
But absolutely nothing is to be gained by observing thoughts, except the I thought, or understanding intellectually how thoughts create the false world we observe. This is only philosophizing. Western philosophy dealt with these topics for hundreds of years as do Eastern philosophers still, with no freedom found in such mental gymnastics.
When you go deep into the experience of I Am, at some point the illusion of the world—waking consciousness AND dream mind becomes crystal clear. They are both seen strictly as imagination, and the desire arises to know the real. No analysis is needed or helpful in finding the real, only plunging deeper within.
Therefore the emphasis should be on doing self inquiry in the proper way and sharing with others one’s experience while going deeper into the contents of consciousness. You have to go deep into the mind, to the root of you beingness in order to transcend it, and that is done by following, attending to, or abiding in that sense of I Am.
Self inquiry allows the mind to gradually become sharper and more subtle, so that it can tease out reality from unreality, appearance from the self.
I have universally recommended several texts for this: The meditation manual, “The Nisargadatta Gita” by Apte, and The Path of Sri Ramana, Part I, chapters 7 and 8 by Sadhu Om and Michael James. Then again, all of Robert’s talks, the 146 available now of http://itisnotreal.com, all emphasize self inquiry. Robert talks about the various methods of self-inquiry in many different ways in his talks. He never advised doing nothing. Except perhaps being near him.
Michael James wrote a huge 672 page book covering all aspects of Ramana’s teachings entitled “Happiness and the Art of Being” which goes deeply into Ramana’s teachings and the practice of self-inquiry. It is important to read this message on reaility (Chapter 4) and Practice, Chapter 10.
I really don’t understand the function of throwing “pointer” quotes at each rather than talking about your own experiences in self-inquiry. That would do far more to help others than quotes from someone who deconstructs the mind, or analyzes percepts and thoughts.
Nisargadatta Gita Download: http://www.lulu.com/product/download/the-nisargadatta-gita/3744368
Path of Sri Ramana Part I http://www.happinessofbeing.com/The_Path_of_Sri_Ramana_Part_One.pdf
Robert Adams Transcripts: http://itisnotreal.com/Collected_Works_of_Robert_Adams_Vol_1.pdf
Michael James: Happiness and the Art of Being: http://www.happinessofbeing.com/happiness_art_being.html#ebook
I would also point out that Michael Langford’s book, follows in this same tradition of emphasizing constant self-attention, although the practice described is slightly different from the methods espoused in the books above.
Until you know first hand that which lies beyond waking and dream world consciousness, you cannot be sure that your existence is constant, and that YOU are beyond heaven and earth, and life and death.
Then when you see thus deeply into yourself, you will feel the deepest happiness and love imaginable.
The point is avoid talking about thought, concepts, reality, witness, observer, real, unreal, etc., and look within for your source as I Amness, and abide there. This is your sense of existence, or presence. Watch it, play with it, recede into it, abide in it. Then everything will be revealed.
From Michael James book, my own “pointers” quote:
If we are really intent upon experiencing the true goal of yoga, which is perfectly clear self-knowledge, we will not feel inclined to read vast quantities of sacred texts or other philosophical books, because we will be eager to put into practice what we have learnt from a few really pertinent books which explain that simple self- attentive being is the only means by which we can experience that goal. If instead we feel enthusiasm only to study an endless number of books, we will merely succeed in filling our mind with countless thoughts, which will draw our attention away from our essential consciousness of our own being. Thus filling our mind with knowledge gathered from many books will be a great obstacle to our practice of self-attentive being.
Excessive study will not only fill our mind with innumerable thoughts, which will cloud our natural inner clarity of self- consciousness, but will also fill it with the pride of learning, which will prompt us to display our vast knowledge to other people, and to expect them to appreciate and praise it. Therefore in verse 36 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham Sri Ramana says:
Rather than people who though learned, have not subsided [surrendered or become humble or still], the unlearned are saved. They are saved from the ghost of pride that possesses the learned. They are saved from the disease of many whirling thoughts. They are saved from running in search of fame [repute, respect, esteem or glory]. Know that what they are saved from is not just one evil.
Of all the obstacles that can arise in our path when we are seeking true self-knowledge, the desire for praise, appreciation, respect, high regard, renown or fame is one of the most delusive and therefore dangerous, and it is one to which the learned are particularly susceptible. Therefore in verse 37 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham Sri Ramana says:
Though all the worlds are [regarded by them as] straw, and though all the sacred texts are within [their] hand, [for] people who come under the sway of the wicked whore who is puhazhchi [praise, applause, appreciation, respect, high regard, renown or fame], escaping [their] slavery [to her], is rare.
The first clause of this verse, ‘though all the worlds are straw’, implies that those of us who have studied vast amounts of philosophy may look down upon the normal mundane pleasures of this world, heaven and all other worlds as being a mere trifle, and may therefore imagine that we have renounced all desire for them. The second clause, ‘though all the sacred texts are within hand’, implies that we may have mastered a vast range of scholastic knowledge about various systems of philosophy, religious belief and other such subjects. However, in spite of all our vast learning and our seeming renunciation, if we fall prey to desire for the extremely delusive pleasure of being an object of praise, appreciation, admiration, respect, high regard, acclaim or fame, to free ourself of such desire is very difficult indeed.
The desire for appreciation and respect is very subtle and therefore powerful in its ability to delude us, and it is a desire to which even otherwise perfectly good people can easily fall a prey, particularly if they engage themselves in any activity that seems to benefit other people, such as teaching the principles of religion, philosophy or moral conduct through either speech or writing. This desire is particularly dangerous for a spiritual aspirant, because the pleasure we feel in being appreciated and respected derives from our attachment to our ego or individual personality – our delusive sense that we are the person who is appreciated and respected.