Simple Guide to Self Inquiry

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The main cause of any spiritual awakening is a shift in perspective and identity where there is a realization that there is no thing called a self inside you.

Most of the time people are completely identified with the mind and the thoughts it produces.

This causes a lot of struggle and suffering.

But for some reason or another, it could be meditation, a mystical experience, a spiritual practice, yoga, the grace of God, an impactful event in life, or anything that breaks someone out of their own mental chatter and allows for some degree of sustained separation, there is a shift in identification.

It’s as if they wake up for the first time into the reality of the world (with all its beauty and harsh truths) and it seems that before they were living in a self-made conceptual dream.

One of the practices that spiritual sages have used for a long time to aid in this shift is self-inquiry.

Below I include my simple notes on the process of inquiry.

Simple Self Inquiry Process 

  1. Ask the question who am I?  (Notice what happens)
    1. There will either be a thought and concepts
    2. Or there won’t be any thoughts and just pure being
  2. If there are no thoughts just rest there
  3. If thoughts come recognize them and try to follow the I that is being referred to in the logic to see if you can find who it’s referring to
    1. Where is the I?
    2. Who is the I?
    3. Who is the I that says I’m scared or nervous or great?
  4. Follow this until the difference is clear between the sense of being without labels, descriptions, or thoughts about I, and the thoughts about I

In-Depth Inquiry (for Situations, Feelings, &Thoughts That Trouble) 

First, take the thoughts and statements that you are believing or were believing in a situation that caused problems and write them down. Then follow the process below.

  1. Is It True?
    • If yes, what’s the reality of the situation?
    • Whose business is it? 
      • 3 kinds of business: mine, yours, gods. The reality of what is occurring is gods. When you think someone should be different you are in their business. Stick to your business.
  1. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
    • Our concepts are based on uninvestigated beliefs. Reality is reality at this moment exactly the way it should be and we can’t control how reality unfolds only our response to it. The truth is prior to every story and every story prevents us from seeing the truth. Learn to love reality, not stories that people make up about it.
  1. How do you react when you believe your thought or statement?
    • This shows the power of believing thoughts and stories and how it impacts our bodies mentally and emotionally. When we oppose truth or reality as it is we don’t feel good.
    • Can you see a reason to drop the thoughts? Don’t try to drop them just notice how they impact you.
  1. Who would you be without the thought?
    • Imagine yourself in the situation without the thoughts and beliefs going on. 
    • In our true nature without getting lost in our mind chatter we are present and joyful and things are as they should be in the moment
  1. Turn your statement around and apply it to yourself to see if it has truth to it
    • Turn it around in 3 different ways and ask yourself if it’s true
      • Turn the statement around to yourself
      • Turn it around to the other
      • Flip the statement to the opposite
    • Example: George should appreciate me
      • I should appreciate myself (why does it bother me that I think he doesn’t appreciate me?)
      • I should appreciate George (Can I appreciate George and treat him well if that’s what I think he should do?)
      • George shouldn’t appreciate me (the reality is he doesn’t and it’s not my business how George acts)

Conclusion 

If this practice feels right to you then it could be worth adding to your routine.

It’s been used in different traditions throughout the ages to help people shift perception and see reality more clearly.

At the end of the day, keep it simple. If it helps you great, if not discard it.

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Josh is a writer and entrepreneur who runs a small digital content publishing business. His main interests are in topics related to developing personal and financial freedom. When not working he enjoys reading, yoga, surfing, being outdoors, meditating, exploring, and hanging with friends.