I have been so stupid!
A couple of weeks ago I came to the conclusion that pure self inquiry, along the line described by Ramana Maharishi, is rather ineffective as a method to awaken. It is far too easy when following Robert's method of watching the I thought, watching where it arises and where it passes away, to just continue to gaze into emptiness, the void that is filled with one's own presence, continuing to look for the I thought or "source," and to ignore ones own sense of presence and thereby to get lost.
I then concluded thheat Nisargadatta's method of resting in the I am provides a better sense of direction for an aspirant as an object of meditation on the self, but only if one can raise the I am sense. If one cannot raise the I am sense, the sense of one's own existence, the sense of one's own presence, this method is no better than Ramana's.
However, as I have discovered that love is a rapid way of entrée into one's own sense of presence, palpably feeling one's heart center open and feeling one's own sense of presence, and thereby quickly finding a place to abide in one's own self as love, I have also realized this is exactly my own way that I practiced prior to my awakening. How stupid of me to not have recognized it then and made it a priority in my instructions to students.
In 1995 Robert left Los Angeles to go to Sedona. I was bereft, lost, empty. So I laid on my back on a couch and went within, into my sense of presence. But even more fundamentally, I played sacred music all day long and felt the dancing of that music in my heart and with the growing joy and increased sense of presence which filled my inner void completely.
Then after about six or eight weeks of doing this constantly, I had my first awakening experience, and a few weeks later my second. I have suggested this as a technique all along for the past several years, but figured then, and until now, it as a technique idiosyncratic to me, and not a universal way.
However, being in love, or emulating that kind of "enlivening" by listening to sacred music, are both ways into one's sense of self, of the I am, wherein it becomes easy to just abide there, stay there, with love, and when the time is ripe, for that sense of presence to leave and for you, and for you to awaken to oneness, no boundaries, with wonderment and awe.
Thus, I do recommend listening to sacred music as a way into your soul and awakening.
It has been suggested that perhaps all beautiful music could do this. However, think how many people listen to beautiful music all day long and never awaken. Many professional musicians play jazz or classical music all day long, or compose all day long, and never awaken. Yet we are drawn to their music. Something moves us.
There is something about Eastern sacred music that has a different effect on one's heart. You can feel the difference of the effect on one's heart of the guru arati, versus a movement from a Beethoven symphony, a Hayden Quartet, or Bach's Goldberg Variations. These may be very beautiful and moving, but the arati sticks you in your beingness so that you can feel the rising and dancing energy in your heart. It was created by the Eastern spiritual genius for that specific purpose of awakening one's own sense of beingness.
Another difference is that the Eastern chants are mostly endless repetitions of the various names of God in her various forms, and attributes: Krishna, Gopi, Shiva, Kali, Radha, Govinda, so the ecstasy felt is always associated with God.
Still, when you listen to or chant such sacred music, it cannot be done with a purpose in mind. It must be done only for the joy it brings.