Self-inquiry, or meditative inquiry, is simply questioning the nature of the belief “I am a separate being, with a separate awareness and consciousness” from a silently open and not-knowing frame of mind, a simple innocence of the moment before the mental processes name, claim, and label what is appearing from what it has stored from the past.
We drop all the believe we know and we notice openly, freshly what is appearing and how the mental processes automatically apply memorized knowing to what is appearing.
The inquiry process appears to rattle or jolt the human mental processes into looking at itself…examining all that has been read, heard, or witnessed. Meditative inquiry highlights and exposes every perceived and cherished concept, idea, belief, and fact, including the concept of being a separate self in a discreet and tangible world of subjects and objects.
Questions arise…. “Who or what am I? What is the brain/mind, what is this automatic mental processing and how does it exert such a powerful influence over life? What is consciousness, it is personal, conceptual?” Are we separate selves with a separate consciousness in a world of subjects and objects?
There are a few pilgrims deeply motivated to examine the beliefs, concepts, and assumptions around a personal or separate identity, though these few are certainly not the norm. Here is a small sample of questions…
- Who or what am I?
- Am I living or being lived?
- Am I thinking or am I being thought?
- Can I know my next thought?
- Where, exactly, do thoughts originate?
- Where was I before I was born?
- How do I know I was born?
- How can there be time and space if now is infinitely unfolding now, now, now?
- Who, what, and where is the witness/watcher of consciousness?
- Can a thought or a string of thoughts, do or be anything?
- The thought, “I see” what is seeing? What sees?
- Are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, all sensing, occurring as consciousness?
- Is consciousness personal?
Only you can go within (self-inquiry) and search the mental processing for all the beliefs and concepts you hold so near and dear as a personal identity. Any beliefs you hold will surely keep you lost in a personal self and insure you believe you are a separate being inside a world of subjects and objects.
Nonduality teachers, sages, and awakened writers can only point towards what you already are – here – now – beyond the relative brain/mind’s projections. As with all appearances, inquiry simply arises spontaneously and uncaused and is claimed as an individual experience by an illusory separate self. Inquiry appears to destroy all ideas, concepts, and facts about you, family, society, legal, religious, spiritual, and scientific beliefs.
Once the invisible threads binding time and space are uncovered, it seems obvious there was never a personal self, only a vaporous projection of an ineffable, indivisible, uncaused, spontaneously appearing nothingness projecting itself as a dreamy illusion of Itself as Itself.