--> Skip to main content

Self-Enquiry Must Be Done Continuously – It Is Not A Part-time Activity

Self-enquiry must be done continuously. It doesn’t work if you regard it as a part-time activity. You may be doing something that doesn’t hold your interest or attention, so you think, ‘I will do some self-enquiry instead’. This is never going to work. You may go two steps forward when you practice, but you go five steps backward when you stop your practice and go back to your worldly affairs. You must have a lifelong commitment to establish yourself in the Self. Your determination to succeed must be strong and firm, and it should manifest as continuous, not part-time effort.

For many lifetimes you have been immersed in ignorance. You are habituated to it. All your deeply rooted beliefs, all your patterns of behavior reinforce ignorance and strengthen the hold it has over you. This ignorance is so strong, so deeply enmeshed in all your psychological structures, it takes a massive effort over a long period of time to break free from it. The habits and beliefs that sustain it have to be challenged again and again.

Ignorance is ignorance of the Self, and to remove it Self-awareness is required. When you come to an awareness of the Self, ignorance vanishes. If you don’t lose contact with the Self, ignorance can never arise.

If there is darkness, you remove it by bringing light. Darkness is not something real and substantial that you have to dig out and throw away. It is just an absence of light, nothing more. When light is let into a dark room, the darkness is suddenly no longer there. It did not vanish gradually or go away piece by piece; it simply ceased to exist when the room became filled with light.

This is just an analogy because the Self is not like other lights. It is not an object that you either see or don’t see. It is there all the time, shining as your own reality. If you refuse to acknowledge its existence, if you refuse to believe that it is there, you put yourself in an imaginary darkness. It is not a real darkness. It is just your own willful refusal to acknowledge that you are light itself. This self-inflicted ignorance is the darkness that has to be banished by the light of Self-awareness. We have repeatedly to turn to the light of the Self within until we become one with it.

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi spoke about turning inwards to face the Self. That is all that is needed. If we look outwards, we become entangled with objects and we lose awareness of the Self shining within us. But when, by repeated practice, we gain the strength to keep our focus on the Self within, we become one with it and the darkness of Self-ignorance vanishes. Then, even though we continue to live in this false and unreal body, we abide in an ocean of bliss that never fades or diminishes.

This is not going to happen in a moment because lifetimes of wrong and ignorant thinking have made it impossible for most of us to focus intently and regularly on the Self within. If you leave your house and start walking away from it, and if you continue this habit over many lives, you will probably be a long, long way from home when you finally decide that you have had enough and that you want to go back to where you started from.

Don’t be discouraged by the length of the journey, and don’t slacken in your efforts to get home. Turn 180° to face the source of your outward journey, and keep moving back to where you started. Ignore the pain, the discomfort, and the frustration of seeming not to get anywhere. Keep moving back to your source, and don’t let anything distract you on the way. Be like the river on its journey back to the sea. It doesn’t stop, take diversions, or decide to flow uphill for a while. It doesn’t become distracted. It just moves slowly and steadily back to the place its water originated from. And when the river dissolves in the ocean, river is no more. Only ocean remains.

Jiva [the individual self] came from Shiva and has to go back to Shiva again. If there is a big charcoal fire, and one burning ember jumps out, the fire in the ember will soon go out. To reignite it, you have to put it back into the fire, back into its burning source.

There is no happiness in separation. The jiva has no happiness, contentment or peace so long as it remains a separate being. The separate being comes from the Self. It has to go back there and end there. Only then will there be eternal peace.

The energy of the mind comes from the Self. In the waking state the mind functions as a separate entity. In the sleep state it goes back to the source. Again and again it comes out and goes back. It does this because it doesn’t know the truth of what it really is. It is Self and Self alone, but its ignorance of this fact makes it miserable. It is this feeling of separateness that gives rise to desires, suffering and unhappiness. Keep the mind in the Self. If you can do this, you can live in peace both while you are awake and also while you are asleep. In deep sleep all differences are dropped. If you keep the mind in the Self during the waking state, there will also be no differences, no distinctions. You will see everything as your own Self.