Thanks for your excellent comments and questions:
I spend as much time as I can watching the I AM sense, I "believe" that's what self-inquiry is about and it seems to "me" that the less complicated it is the better.
These comments show your intense desire to find your being and waking up. You are right to keep it simple. If even Ramana Maharshi’s cow, Lakshmi, could wake up, I am sure that it is not complex.
First, you spend as much time as you can watching the I AM sense. I have some good news for you. The practice of Self-Inquiry is easier than that. For all of the words that I use, do you know what I am really saying? “You already are the self − period.” If per chance you take the self to be less than you really are, I give you a few pointers to get you back on track.
The point of self-inquiry is that whatever you can see you are not. You are however the one thing that the mind and the senses cannot see or know. So you have to know yourself in a different way. Know yourself by being yourself. You might call this practice knowing by being.
Mind tries to find your identity in objects
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But what happens is that the mind, by its nature, latches onto objects. So you ask, “Who am I,” and the mind attempts to be helpful by looking for some answers. But there is one thing that the mind doesn’t know: The real you is not centered in the mind at all. You are space-like Consciousness that was not born and will not die. When the mind is present, consciousness sees the mind. This is sometimes called the witnessing consciousness. But, like your eyes do not see themselves, your mind cannot perceive the consciousness that knows it.
Not knowing the secret location of consciousness, aspirants for liberation make a critical mistake. In their practice they split their mind into two parts. One part, which they call "I", attempts to witness the other part, which they call "not I". Then one part of the mind tries to get the other part into whatever state it conceives as a liberated state. This could be the place where it thinks the "I AM" arises from; it could be a quiet mind, or having just the right thoughts, and certainly not having bad thoughts however it defines them. And that’s where the struggle starts, me against my mind.
Keep your practice simple
Then it gets even more complicated. These aspirants attempt to witness their mind while they are in the midst of activity. Could you imagine if I attempted to write this blog while half my mind was attempting to watch the other half, or if you attempted to read this blog while in that state? I do not know how clearly I could write or how much you could understand. Whatever state we would manufacture would be far from the natural state.
Do you see how complicated and convoluted this practice gets? Ramana’s cow could never have figured it out. In fact Ramana called this type of practice, a thief dressing up as a policeman and then attempting to catch the thief. Will this fake policeman ever succeed?
The thief is just a group of thoughts dressing up as consciousness; this thief is not the real you, the consciousness that lights up your thoughts, but is not a thought in itself.
You are aware without the need for a separate I
Now let’s get back to your question “I spend as much time as I can watching the I AM sense.” Who is watching and what is the "I AM?" Neither of these is the real you. The proof is that you are aware of both the "I" and the "I AM." Your Awareness is natural. It is aware by itself without the need for a separate you. That means that even while you read this blog and concentrate on what I am saying you are still aware. Without shifting your attention away from this blog, if there are noises in the background like a bird singing or a child crying, you will be aware of that too. Whether you remember to watch the I AM sense or you forget, you are still aware. This is your natural state; this awareness is not a mental state.
Meditation on the I AM is shifting your identity out of the objects that you see and returning your identity to its natural place, where you are free from the limitations of those objects — and one of those objects is the "you" that's supposed to be watching.
In the next blog I am going to take up your second comment, I still see the world as a real and dangerous place. I am going to show you how to examine and let go of the frameworks in your mind that seem to keep you stuck in limitation and suffering. This is the secret that caused my meditations and my life to change in ways I never could have imagined.
We will also have some fun with where does reality actually come from.
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If this blog seems a little theoretical to you, ask questions. Then you will see how the explanations in this blog apply to your life. And the freedom that you find will be real. Questioning is the key to your freedom. You’ll see that when you question limitation, it falls away.
Here questions about this article or other things going on in your life are always welcome; you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love questions and try to answer them all in this blog. That’s because when you start to question limitation, you are on the verge of destroying it. When you can ask, you are well on your way to freeing yourself from the limitations that seem to cause your suffering. Of course, to preserve confidentiality your name will be left off.
Also for more detailed explanations and examples read through these blogs or get my book, Making Your Wisdom Come Alive.
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