I have spent last two years trying to become enlightened. I have never read much of the relevant literature or listened what enlightened people teach but concentrated on the practice instead.
The general plan was always simple: find a method that works and execute it. So I chose Ramana Maharshi's Self-inquiry. The practice happened in cycles.
I would try to practice self-inquiry and it wouldn't seem to work so I would try something else, like Osho's witnessing or Gurdjieff's self-remembering. After a while practicing something else I would return to self-inquiry. This went on two years and slowly I became better at what I was doing. Then I found the book called The Path of Sri Ramana Part One suggested by Edji. I didn't quite read the whole book, but enough to gain some inspiration.
After reading the book I started calling my practice witnessing the subject. By doing this I tried to define myself what I should do in order to make progress. I used word witness, because what I did was very passive observing. And I used word subject, because its meaning is to me very clear. Subject means the opposite of object. There are these things around me and then there is me. Maybe the most important reason for choosing word subject was that its exact meaning for me depends on the situation, so there was no pressure to perform this witnessing according to exact instructions of others.
When I witnessed the subject I started by observing the feeling of existence I could feel. This feeling of existence grew to larger sense of self. It was like following a single thread and finding a big ball of yarn. In a sense this sense of self was quite solid and warm. In a way you could compare watching this self to watching your body. So there was big similarity to the sense of body. After some time, witnessing the sense of self turned spontaneously to being/resting in this same sense of self. I would turn my gaze inward and rest in central feeling of existence.
All this happened in about one month. After this month of practice my sense of self dissolved unnoticed. I tried to continue my practice, but all I was able to find were echoes of this sense, but not the solid real deal. I felt somewhat distressed. I didn't know how to go on. In a few days I started feeling different than before. More free. More calm. Certain element of fear/anxiety was missing. Somehow being was more central than doing. My motivation had somewhat dwindled. Few days after this dissolving in one evening I just rested in my bed and listened radio for hours. That is not something I would normally do.
When I tried to find the sense of self all I was able to find were feelings in my body. These feelings I found were in a way part of this solid sense of self, but they were not the whole of it. Some kind sense of existence still existed but it didn't feel as real as before.
When I turned my gaze inwards, I found nothing to focus on. It was like a hand trying to grab something but finding only empty space.
I felt this strong urge to move forward, but didn't know what to do, so I contacted Edji. After several unanswered demands to tell me what to do, I realized that something was happening on its own. I realized that I didn't actually have to do or practice anything at the moment. After this Edji suggested that I could ask myself "I wonder who I am, or what am I?" and be open and accepting to whatever the answer would be.
It was late evening, nearly midnight, when I tried this. At first the answer was that I am my body and that is all I will ever be. I asked second time and something happened.
I understood that I am the current experience. Not some part of the experience, like body or thoughts, but the whole experience. I felt happy, calm and more wide and deep than before. The world was brighter, as if someone had added brightness to the computer screen.
Asking myself who or what am I launched something I first thought to be some kind of altered state that slightly calmed down after 24 hours. Sense perceptions were stronger and more potent than normally. I listened music and it had deep 3-dimensional quality in it. My visual field was bright and very large. Most of my attention was automatically drawn to it. My sense of identity was changed. I felt that I was mainly these sense perceptions. My body, thoughts and feelings were overpowered with sense input.
I strongly believed and felt (and still do) that content of my consciousness is what I truly am.
My identity has always been locked inside my body. When I asked myself who or what am I, the lock opened and my identity expanded to cover the whole consciousness. It has always been undeniable fact, that I am my body (although I have tried to deny it many times). Now it is undeniable fact, that I am this local awareness. These are thoughts, but they are accurate descriptions of the reality I see at this moment.
Everything is basically the same, expect the fact that I'm not quite what I was before. I really don't know yet what this means. Although my sense of identity has expanded, my body and feelings still cover large part of my awareness. I don't feel my senses as sharply as I did earlier, but there is still meaningful difference. My senses and imagination and what they convey are now equals with the old me. I feel that all that is here at the moment is part of me.
It has been few days since I asked the question and at the moment my feelings are quite normal despite now and then experiencing these feelings of space and presence. This all has been quite a ride. But although my feelings and perceptions have changed during the last few days, the basic change that happened few days ago hasn't wavered a bit. ---M
M. realized he was the totality of his experiencing.
The marvelous thing is the more you expand your inner life, the more inclusive that experiencing becomes. Like Lila found, there is no true or false self objects to be found, only ever changing experiences. It is words that try to create permanent objects like "Self," true and false selves, God, guru, student relationships. Really, it is just an ever changing mess that makes no sense if you try to comprehend it with hollow thought.
When you stop trying to understand, your self just gets bigger and bigger until it is all you, but then you realize that too is just a concept.
No you, no not you, and with this comes profound peace and contentment, and ever expanding "growth" of simultaneous ownership and non-ownership of everything.
M.s real path now is just beginning. But notice how just a small change in the method of inquiry can make a large difference. M. just changed from a passive watching aspect of cold observation, to one of lightness, wonderment, acceptance and welcoming of experience, and what a difference it made.