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Monday, March 1, 2010

From Self-Inquiry to Self-Realization

The path to Self-Realization, liberation, enlightenment, though seemingly simple is not easy. The ego literally defines itself through separation between self and other. To confront this most basic truth of your persona is to confront death. Considering this during Shavasana or our Corpse Pose at the end of a yoga class may be an avenue towards deepening that experience. The personality need not be eliminated to realize the Self but rather our attachments to the persona or the qualities and characteristics of our life need to be released.

The nature of the mind is to judge, to constantly compare and contrast the incoming information with past thoughts and experiences (memories are thoughts too). This process is continuous. Ramana Maharshi directs us again and again back to the Source of I....Who Am I? Who is the "I" that judges? From where does this sense of I arise? He leads us to the origin of ego in a relentless inwards spiral of awareness fueled by that simple and profound question...Who Am I? The basic challenge and irony of self-inquiry is that the ego-mind is the problem (atleast our attachment to it) and yet it is that same mind that poses the question and contemplates the answer to Who Am I?

Einstein gives a wonderful hint here when he said,

"You can never solve a problem from the same level on which it was created".

It is important to recognize that we are posing the question into our depths looking, listening and anticipating a response from an ever-deepening place and space. We are not asking the question in a mechanical and repetitive way nor are we "thinking" about an answer to the question. Try it in silence and let me know your experience!

Byron Katie gives a little more process to lead us along the path of Self-Realization and she is far less likely to use this term. Byron Katie talks of our ability to be happy, "it is our birthright" she says and provides a framework for self-inquiry that consists of 4 Questions and a Turn Around. I am not an expert in this method called, The Work and encourage anyone who is interested to do their own research and more importantly PRACTICE! The "Little Book", a free download and excerpt from Katie's book, Loving What Is, is a great place to start.

Here are the 4 Questions and the Turn-around:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

Turn the thought around (original thought: Paul doesn’t listen to me.)
a) to the opposite (Paul does listen to me.)
b) to the self (I don’t listen to me.)
c) to the other (I don’t listen to Paul.)
And find three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

We will continue this exploration in our next blog but I want to remind you that maintaining a physical yoga practice is an important complement to this work and any work that is designed to take you deeper. Releasing tension and toxins through physical movement will help create space that will support your work.


Yogi Jayanta

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