Twist on Ramana Maharshi's Self Inquiry

DavidK
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Twist on Ramana Maharshi's Self Inquiry

Post by DavidK » Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:21 pm

So last year I was reading a book which was basically transcripts of conversations between seekers and Ramana Maharshi. At the time, I found the material to be both fascinating and exasperating. It seemed like Ramana answered most questions with, "Who is asking the question?"

This year a friend loaned me PON on cassette tape. I listened to it and resonated with the teachings. The feeling of, "He's on to something." "There is some real truth here."

So I purchased and downloaded the audio of one of Eckhart's retreats from I-Tunes. His humor and presence really won me over. I felt like I had a better understanding of it all, while realizing that "understanding" was not really the goal. In fact, I needed to let go of the idea that I was pursuing a goal at all.

Then I read Diamond in Your Pocket by Gangaji. I read it because there was a recomendation from ET on the back. Gangaji is a direct diciple of Papaji who is a direct diciple of Ramana Maharshi. For me, her book began to build a bridge between the advice of Ramana and that of ET.

Then someone highly recomended that I read, A New Earth by ET. So I did... and I was BLOWN AWAY. My ego clouds thinned and I SAW what he meant. I FELT it. It was REAL not just theory.

Then my ego kicked back in, the clouds reformed, and I had that feeling of "losing" what I had "found". (Yes I know. In reality it is not something you can lose. But that was the feeling)

That was two weeks ago. Since then I've been listening to the audio of A New Earth in the car. But no real clearing of the clouds as yet.

So today I am going to try using a variation on the Self Inquiry of Ramana. (My ego and I spent a long time getting the wording just right)

Basically, any time I think to notice what I'm feeling or thinking or wanting etc. I ask myself three questions and try to really feel into them.

1. Who is feeling this?
2. Who is asking the question?
3. Who knows?

The last question is not "Who knows" in the sarcastic sense. It is a serious inquiry reach the true Self that knows all this.

Anyway. I'll tell you how it works out!

Dave

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Re: Twist on Ramana Maharshi's Self Inquiry

Post by phil » Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:44 pm

Dave, welcome to the forum!
DavidK wrote: So today I am going to try using a variation on the Self Inquiry of Ramana. (My ego and I spent a long time getting the wording just right)

Basically, any time I think to notice what I'm feeling or thinking or wanting etc. I ask myself three questions and try to really feel into them.

1. Who is feeling this?
2. Who is asking the question?
3. Who knows?
This seems like a really useful contribution Dave. I really like the way you are attempting to translate understandings in to simple everyday English.

I've felt that if spirituality really does deal with the heart of what it is to be human, then it seems the teachings should be able to be communicated in every human language, dialect, subculture lingo etc.

Tolle seems very gifted at this, but still I think we have miles to go yet in translating these understanding beyond the white middle class "new age" spiritual community in to words that are accessible by a much wider group.

Anyway, that translation process interests me, and you seem to have a knack for it. Please continue.

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Post by summer » Wed Dec 21, 2005 8:30 pm

Great questions, David,
I have copied them down to try out myself :)

You have picked my 3 favorite teachers now. Eckhart, Ramana Maharshi, and Gangaji, so I am looking forward to hearing about any insights we have, when we ask these questions.

Yesterday, I had a conflict situation with some family members. I was quite upset, and spent most of that evening and this morning "brewing on it all"
Just now when I asked myself your 3 questions, the answer to the first two, was "me, who has her story" And the answer to the third question brought a big smile to my face. I don't know who this really is, the part that "knows". but the problem seems to have disappeared.

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Post by kiki » Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:17 am

Ramana's inquiry is intended to direct awareness back onto itself. When "Who is asking the question?" is asked of oneself no specific answer will be found, just shifting ideas arising in awareness. At some point the mind will tire of the inquiry because it won't be able to find the answer. When this happens mental activity will cease and awareness will be left shining on its own. Awareness/knowingness will be remaining, and THAT'S what you are - at some point this will be felt deeply and undeniably.

Later, as this becomes more constant, thoughts, emotions, and sensations will arise again, and yet this knowing of oneself as awareness will still be felt. One won't be so easily caught up identification with the ego anymore.

So, the question is just a reminder to return to conscious awareness of awareness.

kiki

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Post by DavidK » Sun Dec 25, 2005 5:57 am

Thank you for your replies.

Phil:
Unfortunately that "knack" you refer to consisted of very little presence and way too much thinking and futzing around with the words. :? I guess it is the comprimise I'm making with my ego these days:

"He'll" agree to get quieter and leave me alone in a state of presence more often, and in return I let "him" obsess over the best way to write this stuff down in my journal.

His latest contribution:

Notice the objects
Notice the space
Notice the noticing
Know your true face

Summer:
I'm just tickled by the experience you described. A smile and a problem that disappeared. That's great! Thanks for sharing it.

Kiki
Thank you for adding insight into how Ramana Maharshi's teaching works in practice. It sounds like you have had success with the technique. If so, would you be willing to describe how it felt for you the first time your mind activity ceased to the point where Self Realization occurred? Did you do anything differently that time? Can you think of anything in the environment that contributed to your success in seeing through the illusion on that particular occasion?

I am doing the self inquiry technique. And in general I feel more calm and spacious. But I've yet to experience any state of knowing.

Thanks!
Dave

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Post by kiki » Fri Dec 30, 2005 7:03 pm

Dave asked, "would you be willing to describe how it felt for you the first time your mind activity ceased to the point where Self Realization occurred?"

I had practiced meditation for many years, and was always looking to the future to see results. After reading PON I decided to let go of every technique because what ET was saying resonated. It was then that I "saw" the background of awareness upon which thoughts were flowing, upon which meditation techniques were practiced. Suddenly I realized what the word "awareness" was referring to, and realized that that had always been here, but it just wasn't recognized for what it was. The simplicity of what awareness was stunned me because I had accumulated lots of ideas about what it meant, and none of those ideas were even close. It all became so utterly simple that I couldn't believe that I had been missing it for so long.

After that I revisited some of the old books I had been reading but could never understand. Primarily these were by Osho, but also there were things I read by Ramana, whose self-inquiry approach now made perfect sense. I understood immediately what he meant by telling people to ask "Who am I?" When "I" did inquiry I would immediately drop back into the natural state because "I" could never be found. There was the witnessing of the "I" arising and fading away again, but what I really was always remained steady and clear. When the ego arose again there was the "spotting" of it almost at once - I was no longer getting fooled into believing that I was a separate and distinct entity.


"Did you do anything differently that time? Can you think of anything in the environment that contributed to your success in seeing through the illusion on that particular occasion?"

There was nothing done differently other than dropping all practices. Nothing in the environment had changed. Nothing had changed at all except afterwords all expectations concerning the future evaporated, regrets about the past no longer arose - there was now just the total acceptance of the present moment as it arose. There was no "I" to accept anything or reject anything - my very nature could not NOT accept.

Once I understood what awakening was I realized I had been having awakening experiences since I was a child. In particular, I remember having a series of experiences while laying in bed waiting for sleep to come when I was a teenager. In these instances I would find myself in nothing but clear awareness, yet wide awake and "knowing". When the mind engaged again there would be a mental scrambling to figure out what happened, and attempts made to return. Of course, all this did was cover it up again - it was all so strange because it came unbidded, but the mind couldn't accept this. In subsequent days, when not "trying" to do anything at all (and not even remembering the past experiences of it) it would come again. Years later, it was realized that it was all happening spontaneously, but I couldn't understand that at the time.

----------------

As for your own "state of knowing" I would ask, what is it you think this "knowing" will be like? Can you see how you may be putting a subtle expectation upon what "knowing" is? First of all, there is no "state" of knowing, there is just knowing. States come and go, but knowing is what you are, and what you are can never come and go - it always is.

Knowing is just the awareness of what is. Sometimes phenomena arise within the knowing as part of "what is", and because of the knowing there is the recognition that "something" is happening - how else could anything be "known"? On the other hand, sometimes there is nothing in particular arising mentally or egoically (which is also a mental activity) - when this happens, there is just the "knowing" itself - there is self-shining awareness - wakefulness without a "center", without a "me", without a reference point to relate anything else to. THAT's what you really are, that spacious awareness that simply "knows". Nothing special, nothing spectacular, very ordinary.

If you don't make it out to be more than it is it will become more recognizable. Investigate, see if you are projecting expectations of any sort - it is these expectations which will obscure the obviousness of awareness.

My best to you,

kiki

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Post by lucy » Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:58 am

Kiki,

I am drawn to your posts, I think it's because the words seem to be coming from that place of stillness which ET describes. When you point to "knowing" do you mean the feeling (I can't think of a word to describe it) we get when we look out into the world and "know" that it is? Is that what we are, that "knowing".

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Post by kiki » Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:09 am

lucy asks,

"When you point to "knowing" do you mean the feeling (I can't think of a word to describe it) we get when we look out into the world and "know" that it is? Is that what we are, that "knowing".

Yes. That "knowing" is consciousness itself, it is awareness - it is what you are. And you're right, you can't think of a word to describe it because it has nothing to do with "words", although words wouldn't be possible without it, nor would anything else. The "feeling" you speak of is closer to it than any words can describe, though it isn't a feeling either.

The knowing usually gets "covered up" by that which is known, the object - it gets covered up because it has no features, no distinguishing qualities that make it stand out. But, without an object (that which "stands out") to be "illuminated" the knowing is self-shining - it becomes aware of itself; sometimes it is referred to as "self-evident."

Experiment a little bit, see if that knowing is ever absent. This knowing may become more apparent if you sit quietly and close the eyes and pay attention to what happens. Have no agenda to seek anything - just watch. You will notice thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, sounds in the environment, and so on - with each of these there will be the "knowing" of them without resorting to thinking about them. You don't have to THINK about anything that arises, but whatever arises is noticed by the knowing of consciousness, by awareness, by You.

At some point everything may drop away, yet there will still be "knowing" - when mind becomes active again there may be the thought, "Oh, so THAT's what 'knowing' is! Gee, how simple, how ordinary, how obvious." After seeing directly just what it is, you start to notice it everywhere, in all circumstances. There comes a relaxation about everything because the seeking has stopped. What had been sought was discovered to already be the case - you were always "home". Then there comes a very natural, a very spontaneous dropping back into the natural state of awareness, your true essence. Ego, mind, sensations, emotions, and objects continue to arise and fade away, but You as awareness remain steady, calm, silent, still, and always here. - just "knowingness".

By the way, welcome to the board. My best to you.

kiki

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Post by Sue » Sat Dec 31, 2005 3:21 am

kiki wrote:

There was no "I" to accept anything or reject anything - my very nature could not NOT accept.

:D

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Post by DavidK » Sat Dec 31, 2005 4:46 am

Hi Kiki,
Thank you for your generous response to my questions. Of course your answers gave me more questions. :D
So here goes.
kiki wrote: After reading PON I decided to let go of every technique because what ET was saying resonated. It was then that I "saw" the background of awareness upon which thoughts were flowing, upon which meditation techniques were practiced. Suddenly I realized what the word "awareness" was referring to, and realized that that had always been here, but it just wasn't recognized for what it was.


So more specifically, where were you when you "saw" the background of awareness? Were you in your car driving? Were you reading PON? Were you thinking about "awakening" or perhaps just gazing at a tree? That is one of the things I am very curious about.

kiki wrote:The simplicity of what awareness was stunned me because I had accumulated lots of ideas about what it meant, and none of those ideas were even close. It all became so utterly simple that I couldn't believe that I had been missing it for so long.
I believe I have had some moments of clarity. Three weeks ago in the middle of reading A New Earth I had such a moment. I wrote in my journal that what I was experiencing was an overwhelming feeling of, "I get it". I felt quite free of the gyrations of my mind and ego. The following day I wrote that I felt a bit like a mother relaxing in the sun, calmly watching her child(my ego) play and act out little games. Knowing that all is well and that the child(ego) was in no danger.

A day or two later, the clarity was back behind the clouds of ego and personality. I had no idea how or when it happened. But the clouds have not cleared since. I was a little frustrated at first. But after listening to the Tony Parsons material, I'm feeling more relaxed about it all. It's all completely out of my hands.

I'm just trying to avoid too much media contact and people who are very ego driven, so I don't add any more garbage to my mind than necessary. By the same token I'm listening to a lot of ET in the car and reading material by Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Tony Parsons. To keep words born of presence floating around my mind. If I've gotta have thoughts and ego, I might as well have thoughts that are compatible with the place I want to be at.
kiki wrote:When "I" did inquiry I would immediately drop back into the natural state because "I" could never be found. There was the witnessing of the "I" arising and fading away again, but what I really was always remained steady and clear. When the ego arose again there was the "spotting" of it almost at once - I was no longer getting fooled into believing that I was a separate and distinct entity.
Yeah, I'm back to getting fooled. And I don't know for sure if my moment of clarity was even a full realization. It may have been more of an intellectual comprehension of the material I'd been reading, and a calmness that followed.
kiki wrote:...all expectations concerning the future evaporated, regrets about the past no longer arose - there was now just the total acceptance of the present moment as it arose. There was no "I" to accept anything or reject anything - my very nature could not NOT accept.
I really like that passage. And that is what I am longing for, something unambiguous and permanent.
kiki wrote:As for your own "state of knowing" I would ask, what is it you think this "knowing" will be like?
A calm abiding presence in the now which cannot be shaken by anything experienced, thought, or felt by the "person" I consider my self to be right now. An end to my questions and seeking
kiki wrote:Can you see how you may be putting a subtle expectation upon what "knowing" is? First of all, there is no "state" of knowing, there is just knowing. States come and go, but knowing is what you are, and what you are can never come and go - it always is.
Yes it is hard not to have expectations. But I am trying to let all of that go and just have faith that all is well and whatever will be will be.

kiki wrote:Knowing is just the awareness of what is. Sometimes phenomena arise within the knowing as part of "what is", and because of the knowing there is the recognition that "something" is happening - how else could anything be "known"? On the other hand, sometimes there is nothing in particular arising mentally or egoically (which is also a mental activity) - when this happens, there is just the "knowing" itself - there is self-shining awareness - wakefulness without a "center", without a "me", without a reference point to relate anything else to. THAT's what you really are, that spacious awareness that simply "knows". Nothing special, nothing spectacular, very ordinary.
I do feel that I've had a taste of that. It does describe what I remember from a few weeks ago. But for me it was very fleeting.
kiki wrote:If you don't make it out to be more than it is it will become more recognizable. Investigate, see if you are projecting expectations of any sort - it is these expectations which will obscure the obviousness of awareness.
I will try to watch especially for such expectations.

Thank you so much for taking the time for your long and helpful post.

Namaste

Dave

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Post by summer » Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:14 am

So much love here :)

thank you

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Post by kiki » Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:57 am

Dave asked, "So more specifically, where were you when you "saw" the background of awareness?"

It's hard to be precise what I was doing when it first became apparent. However, it was unmistakable while listening to ET on tape - his spontaneous talks I found especially conducive to "seeing" awareness, to bringing awareness to the forefront. I would be listening but there wouldn't be any "me" who was hearing - there were just his words and no kiki anywhere.

When there arose a pause in ET's words, there would still be awareness/knowingness shining but it was more obvious. Then when he resumed his words the knowingness became more noticeable, there would be a "stillness" in which his words flowed - that stillness was seen/realized to be what I really am because it is found to always be here, unlike the egoic form of kiki.

There were times after coming across ET where I would sit for formal meditation again, just for kicks. After a couple of repititions of the mantra it became obvious that there was no need to continue - I could "see" the mantra "floating" on awareness. I realized that I no longer needed to meditate because I already had what the technique was designed to get me - awareness without an object (mantra).

I do like to spend time sitting quietly with eyes closed, doing nothing in particular. At these times it is entertaining to "watch" what happens, to spot ego/mind arising and fading again, to see the emergence of thought on subtler and subtler levels, to become ever more alert to the rippling of consciousness - it's all very entertaining.

Activity is pretty much like sitting with eyes closed, although there is the perception of "solid" objects. However, there is no longer a reference point to what is perceived, there is nothing arising which sets anything apart from anything else - there is no "me" and "other", there is just what is. The form of "what is" changes, but the awareness/stillness/silence that it appears in never does.

"The following day I wrote that I felt a bit like a mother relaxing in the sun, calmly watching her child(my ego) play and act out little games. Knowing that all is well and that the child(ego) was in no danger."

Yes, it is like that - good analagy, Dave. The child is never in danger because the child doesn't actually exist, so there is a relaxation about everything.

"But the clouds have not cleared since. I was a little frustrated at first. But after listening to the Tony Parsons material, I'm feeling more relaxed about it all. It's all completely out of my hands."

The clouds are the demands of that ficticious child - pay him no great attention. Yes, ultimately it is out of your/ego's hands. But if listening to Tony Parsons seems to help, by all means, keep listening. At some point, though, you will find no NEED to listen to anyone, though listening may continue to arise as part of how consciousness expresses through "Dave".

I still put ET on sometimes , as well as Gangaji and Adyashanti - I do this not to gain something, not because there is a sense that something is missing, but because I do. It's sort of like sitting with very good company and just basking in the sunshine/presence for the sheer enjoyment.

"I don't know for sure if my moment of clarity was even a full realization"

They way you described it sounds right. It was realization, but it hasn't stabilized yet. Remember, it's always here but not always noticed. Relax about the whole "striving" thing and it will emerge more consciously.

"To keep words born of presence floating around my mind. If I've gotta have thoughts and ego, I might as well have thoughts that are compatible with the place I want to be at."

I understand what you are saying, but even this can become a subtle trap. Ultimately, even thoughts about this get in the way. Once it becomes stablized though, it will be seen even while thought arises. It will be seen even when emotions flow, even while interacting with others. Then everything becomes a play which flows within You - You watch it all and remain untouched.

My best to you,
kiki

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Post by phil » Sat Dec 31, 2005 3:10 pm

Great posts Kiki. Like Tolle, you seem to have an ability to explain these things in accessible language.
kiki wrote:Ego, mind, sensations, emotions, and objects continue to arise and fade away, but You as awareness remain steady, calm, silent, still, and always here. - just "knowingness".
If your time permits, perhaps you could expand on this further?

Although it's perhaps not helpful, it seems most of us approach these topics with some goal in mind. We are usually using "be here now" to get from where we are, to somewhere else.

Could you maybe give us some insight in to what living your "somewhere else" is like?

I don't mean the personal details of your situation which none of us wish to intrude upon.

But, for instance, you said emotions continue to arise and then fade away. I'm guessing many of us may read "emotions rising" and think to ourselves, "hmm,but that's what I'm trying to get away from."

Could you perhaps allow us to sit on your shoulder as some emotion, preferably negative, arises? Why does it arise, and what does it feel like etc.

Can you take us a step further away from an abstract generic description in to some daily life examples?

Great posts, thanks again.

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Post by Egoicmidget » Sat Dec 31, 2005 3:42 pm

David, Kiki thanks so much for the illumination you have both answered many questions that I could not articulate but have wanted to know answers to.

This thread is the essence of light that helps to realize allowing oneness
doesn't require a goal or effort, which has been my main struggle.

Sort of like, Ok what do I need to do to get there. LOL

Obviously nothing.

My conditioned mind rises up far to often, but much less than before
I understood the teachings.

It seems that oneness is about harmony with all things and the light that melts ego helps us get there?

The consciousnes that destroys polaritys, us, them,right,wrong (the conditioned mind egoic self?).

It's all one?

As Tolle mentions "the surrender to what is and the end to compulsive thinking".

David, Kiki and anyone else is that the beginning of onesness?

I'm hear to humbly learn from you all .

John

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Post by lucy » Sat Dec 31, 2005 7:44 pm

Kiki, David and others on this thread, thank you.

When I first read PON I tried to stay in the "Now" as ET suggests, but now I realize that my mind had actually turned that into a technique. I was doing it to "achieve" the now. After the discussion on this thread, I now realize why staying in the "now" is important. It is important because that is where "awareness" resides. When we lose the now, we lose the moment and when the moment is lost, awareness is also lost. ET and many others have said this, but I didn't really "get it" till now. I feel I may have had a glimpse of my true nature. It almost felt as if the shell that encases my body became soft and the contents merged into the space outside of myself. I find myself waiting for the clouds to clear again and getting agitated that its not going to ever happen again. I realize that this is the ego kicking back into survival mode, but part of me still fears that this has been a one time thing...

..Kiki after you had the awakening did fear of everything just drop away from your life? Is it easier to make decisions now? I guess there is no one left to make decisions, but can you describe how it works in your daily life, when you accept everythng as you have chosen it, does everything "work out" for the best as ET describes.

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