I am writing you from Bulgaria. I have read your words on self-inquiry and many of the materials on your website and found it very helpful.
I don't know how to begin this, so for now, I'll just go straight to the questions.
One of the difficulties with getting myself to steady practice is that I am still not sure what I am supposed to do. I have read a lot on the topic hoping to find the clearest possible explanation. Your explanations are one of the best I found. So sometimes, if I have doubts, I re-read them.
It's clear to me this is NOT an intellectual or verbal question that should happen in the mind, but (as also Mooji put it) it's more a kind of a looking, observing, researching... looking for the one that is aware of the looking itself, and resting as that (by looking I mean experiencing - both of external and internal). I have read Nisargadatta Maharaj's words on this, Ramana Maharshi, Jiddu Krishamurti, also read on Buddhism and mindfulness, and it seems to me that they somehow approach the same thing with different words. However, it seems there are subtle differences, so here are some unclear points that I'd like to ask you about.
Nisargadatta talks about consciousness and awareness as two different things. It turns out that consciousness is that knowledge "I am", i.e. the simple feeling, the axiomatic knowledge that I exist. From his words, it seems that we should stay with this without identifying with thoughts, emotions, body, etc. and at some point we are supposed to realize that this "I am" quality is quality-less, and is the same as the "I am" in everyone else, and that it has nothing to do with our thoughts, feelings, emotions, senses, body, etc. - we are none of this. So it seems this is the first level of realization - the knowing of "I am". But he says we are beyond that - pure "awareness that is unaware of itself". He asks us to remember the moment when we came to know "I am", which seems an unanswerable question, because I cannot remember when I started to exist, it seems it has never been. Maybe it's a way to point us to that awareness on which that "I am" happens, right?
Is this the same awareness that Jiddu Krishnamurti talks about, the 'choiceless awareness'? I remember Ramana said that this choiceless awareness is our natural state when he's been asked about Krishnamurti. However, Krishnamurti does not use the self-inquiry method, but invites us to become intensely aware of *everything*, also to observe ourselves without judging - thoughts, emotions, reactions, mental patterns just as we observe things that we take to be separate from us. i.e. to blend the inner and the outer, as I understand it. And he calls this true meditation. I remember Nisargadatta himself pointed out this as another way to go about it - observing. Is this the same as mindfulness, and how does it relate to the so-called 'witness consciousness'? Anthony de Mello and Osho also talk about this awareness and observation, particularly by using awareness of breath, body sensations, emotions and thoughts, from which a sense of deep silence and rest will become to open. So, is this the same awareness that Nisagadatta talks about? Also, is the 'consciousness' / "I am" he talks about the ego knot you mention in your writings?
However, it seems to me that when I do self-inquiry, the method itself often puts me in that state of awareness that J Krishnamurti talks about, so I kind of expand internally and things, including my own life, become distant, though for very short time. I've had similar experiences as a child, before knowing anything about all this, particularly when I've been out of home and I've just had this doubt if I am really on the street, if there's anybody there at all, and who is actually on the street, which made me intensely aware. I've had such momentary flashes that are simply unforgettable. I remember I have shared this with my parents back then, saying that suddenly everything feels unreal. It's like I am there and the next moment I am not, but somewhere that cannot be pointed and has no dimensions, or whatever. And it's been scary, because it's like a sudden understanding that I am not what I have thought myself to be, it's like I and everything have never been, and the entire 'reality', existence are about to collapse. This takes a few fractions of a second or a few seconds leading to some palpitations and anxiety, and then it's over.
I'd like to ask a few other questions, if it is fine, but perhaps in another email. I would appreciate if you have the time to clarify for me.
But there is so much to clarify! It would take me a week.
You want me to compare, contrast, and unify terms and states used by 6 different teachers.
This is a question to ask an academic, a philosopher, not someone who is trying to lead you to a different place than they are.
Are you not REALLY asking for clarity as to how to practice for yourself, and what the "true" state is when you end the game?
Well, this cannot be done. Even I am not completely clear what Ramana means sometimes, or what Krishnamurti means at other times. I only know what I mean. Both of them talk based on their own experience and the cultural context and language from which they express their understanding.
So, I advise you to start from where you are. You need to ask yourself the question, what am I looking for? What do I hope to get by asking Ed these questions? What will the clarification do for me? Will it help me find what I am really looking for, and what would that be? Or would it only lead to the need for further clarifications, ever more subtle?
Can the mind ever find what you are really looking for, or are you looking for something that must be found without knowing, say for example, by means of the heart--whatever that means?
This is the place to start. What are you looking for? Is it a state of some sort to be attained, or is it something I already have buried somewhere in my consciousness?
Ask yourself these questions first, then we can continue.