Self Inquiry techniques

suzame's picture

Average: 4.3 (13 votes)

There are here a few extremely valuable posts of tips & tricks for doing Ramana Maharshi's self enquiry.

I would specially recommend two:

A new one I have just seen half an hour ago:

Another one with good guidlines to fine tune the practice of the method. Personally, helped me a lot:

Anybody with additional resources, please post.

barbara's picture

David Godman's book

Great posts indeed!

I would recommend also David Godman's excellent book "The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi". That's where I learnt how to do the technique correctly avoiding all the pitfalls.

The book is cataloged under Ramana Maharshi as the author and not David Godman (as most of it is dialogs conducted by the Maharshi) but Godman did the wondeful selection and arrangement of the material and added the valuable introductions to each chapter that clarify the teachings.

There is a link to the book at amazon from the profile of Ramana Maharshi at (it is the first book on the list)

barbara | Wed, 06/11/2008 - 21:12
Carly's picture

Who Am I? Not a mental question?

Maybe this is already common knowledge, but is it possible then when Maharshi told usk to ask ourselves "Who Am I?" he didn't mean mentally/verbally, but instead focusing on the I awareness? For me, just asking myself the question (or repeating "I am" "I", or "I am That") usually doesn't do much (though one time I did expereince Samadhi by asking it), because it is the mind asking and the mind answering. My mind tries to come up with the perfect answer, or tries to bring me back to the state I was in before I reached Samadhi the other times, which is futile.

Yesterday I was practicing this method and was not finding any success, not even a quieting of the mind, and I remembered a technique I read about called the "Awareness watching Awareness method", which always seemed too abstract to me before. But I gave it a try, mainly just focusing on the 'I', but not in words, more just the presence that was looking from behind my eyes or maybe in my heart, and this seemed much more powerful than asking myself a question. I didn't do this for very long, so I'm not sure yet what the extended results will be. Has anyone else practiced this awareness watching awareness method? And if so, am I doing it correctly? Thanks.

Carly | Wed, 04/22/2009 - 15:43
erez's picture

Patience and persistence


Do the self enquiry (or any other meditation or technique) without expecting any results, especially not immediate results, do it continuously and persistently for one year, two years, three years and then see what happens. You either have a trust that this is a good path or else do not do it. Your mind cannot anticipate or understand the results beforehand and so expectations are futile.

Are you serious expecting in one short session to reverse the mental habits you have nourished for 20-30-40 years?

The "Who Am I" question is only meant to create a mental pointer, not any verbal answer because the true ultimate subject, the tru "I", the true center is invisible, it cannot be grasped as an object (otherwise, it is not the subject but rather that which is grasping this object is etc.). You need a far greater patience, you do not get it pointed just like that but one day it will come if you persist with patience.

Anyway, self enquiry is not meant to pacify the mind whatsoever. It may temporarily cause the opposite.

erez | Wed, 04/22/2009 - 21:58
banana's picture

Beware of "Awareness watching Awareness"

I would advise you strongly to beware of the "Awareness watching Awareness" method and stick to the simple and pure self enquiry.

The "Awareness watching Awareness" is a unfortunate ignorant distorted interpretation of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj in general and of the Self Inquiry in particular.

It mixes between all sorts of different things and worse of all, it assumes that the self or as it termed there "awareness" can be watched as an object while it is basic that anything that can be watched as an object is not the ultimate subject, is not the self but just another face of the "I" thought. Regarding the self, you can only abide in it, not watch it, i.e. peel off the onion to remain naked as the self.

banana | Thu, 04/23/2009 - 00:39
gentlyok's picture

Being in the Heart

I doubt that there is a "right way" but more what works for you. For me, it is not a mental question and words are not going to explain it either. But, words are what we have. For me it is a shift from mind to the heart. I get caught in some thought process and as soon as I shift into awareness, there is not so much thought as a physical sensation in my chest. That shift happens automatically when I bring my attention to my heart. I call it being but there seems to be other words that are used. I feel joy and such awe and gratitude for what we all are.

gentlyok | Thu, 04/23/2009 - 23:10
nathan's picture

No, this is a very specific meditation

Do you have the same doubt about a procedure to defuse a bomb? or about setting your television? or the way the doctor operates you?

Of course not.

In the same way, certain meditation techniques, especially the powerful ones, like the Vipassana or Self Inquiry should be followed specifically and meticulously according to the instructions otherwise the technique can easily become ineffective. The mind will do whatever possible to deviate from the right course once it feels existential danger.

nathan | Fri, 11/27/2009 - 19:24
Sudhakar Majety's picture

Self enquiry

In days of great peace by Mouni Sadhu is an excellent book in this context. He discussed in detail what changes and challanges he went through while practising Bhagavan's self enquiry technique. It also helps to study the lives of Annamalai Swamy, Seshadri Swamy, Nayana among others who were his contemporaries.

When I first heard about the process I was not very open to it. As I read more and more it started to make sense to me.

Arthur Osborne's Ramana Mahrshi and the path of self knowledge, A search in secret India by Paul Brunton, Ramana Leela by Krishna Bikshu ( edited by Bhagavan himself),

Five hymns to Arunachala, Self Enquiry and Spiritual instructions, Who am I -- by Bhagavan

Kanakamma's cherished memories, My life at the ashram by Suri Nagamma, Living with the master by Kunjuswami will bring back the days of that time in front of us.

Bhagavan is the greatest being in human form ever. His life is the example of how best life can be lived. I think studying his life and teachings inspires anyone to do his best to follow the path he taught all the people who were fortunate to be near him.

Sudhakar Majety | Thu, 01/21/2010 - 23:20

Avoid conflict between head and heart in name of Self-inquiry.

Self-inquiry is the art of making the mind silent.It is to see what is going on inside the mind all the time with detached

aloofness like a bystander without condemning or appreciating it,neither friendly nor inimical to it.Just be neutral like

a mirror.Anything that comes by,the mirror reflects.It does not say beautiful or ugly about the reflected things.

Mind always knows that its existence is momentary.The thought is so feeting and passes this moment and if you do not do

the thing what that says,that thought may not be there.So the head is always in a constant hurry.That is its nature.

We have concentrated all our energy in the head from aeons and aeons and we are paying for it in the form of inner and

outer conflict,misery,sorrow,ambition,greed,envy,anger,stinginess,violence,unending desires,identity with the family,

caste,clan,region,nation,religions,beliefs,dogmas etc all of them unifomly keeping the human in a hell-like miserable

situation.Unable to bear all these human invented many escapes from the "me" by continuously keeping occupied in

something or the other which include complicated religious ceremonies,going to clubs,gluing to TV's,taking

alcohol,indulging in sex,indulging in earning money and property,accumulating knowledge and showing others that he is

something unlike others but all these escapes are also bringing misery to the human.So fed with staying in the head

for so long some start doing Self-inquiry.

If one do the Self-inquiry with all his being he will touch the heart which unlike mind is permanent and almost eternal.

So naturally one wants to stay there forever.Then starts the real problem.If we want to stay in the heart nagging from

the head starts which becomes pronounced day by day.So in the beginning Self-inquiry appears to be extremely difficult

and it appears so difficult many stop doing Self-inquiry and start doing rituals,repeating sacred words because there

is no revolt from the mind in such activities.Mind always resists transformation.

Sothe whole beauty of staying in heart is lost because of this nagging mind.Then it better to go head back again rather

than creating conflict between head and heart in the name of doing Self-inquiry because any conflict born out any situals

only results in further strengthening of the ego.If you go back to head in this way hankering of mind is finished.

Soon you will see that how foolish is to go to the head all the time and concentrating all our energies there.

But this must be ones own experience,then only we become mature and earn our visa to go to heart again and stay

there.Then next time you will become more in tune with the heart and mind will be less antagonistic to heart.

When there is a hint of conflict between head and heart it is better to go through it.Avoiding leaves us in status quo

psychologically and there is no possibility of transformation of the mind.

If you decide for your head,the heart will never give you any trouble,the heart is very,very patient,it will wait for

eternity because it knows the beauty of waiting.But if you decide for the heart,the head is going to give you trouble,

because being hurry is its nature.

If there is a sign of conflict between head and heart is there during Self-inquiry always it is better to give a chance to the

head first because it is more superficial.The head is just curious like a child,it has no capacity to dive deep into anything.

If it dives deep it is lost,it knows that fact.It is better to fulfil the curiosity of the mind and let it know by itself that it was

foolish,so that it learns a lesson.By and by you will see the foolishness of concentrating the whole of your energy in the

head all the time and you will stop going to head voluntarily when there is no need to go there.Then you become mature

born out of your own experience.Next time when you come back to your heart you will sink in it,dissolve in it and you will

go deeper and deeper in to it enjoying its bliss which is causeless and so eternal.

DRPVSSNRAJU | Sat, 04/16/2011 - 10:22
shishmanidov35's picture

This is not self enquiry

What you describe here is relevant to meditation when you observe your thoughts etc. It has nothing to do with self enquiry.

In self enquiry you simply watch your sense of "I" which is a clear and very specific feeling/thought and later abide in the sense of "I Am". This is Self Enquiry. Adding anything further is just complicating and distorting self enquiry and turning it into something else.

shishmanidov35 | Sat, 04/16/2011 - 14:27

Meditation and Self-inquiry.

Dear Shishmanidov,Witnessing choiceless awareness is the essence to all meditation techniques.In Self-inquiry there is watching of sense of "I"which leads to abiding in "I am".My intention is not to distort the Self-inquiry and describing something else as Self-inquiry.If you still feel that readers will be misguided by my post i shall delete it.

DRPVSSNRAJU | Sat, 04/16/2011 - 15:17
shishmanidov35's picture

i such a case, your words

i such a case, your words are a valuable help to self enquiry

shishmanidov35 | Sun, 04/17/2011 - 07:39

Meditation and Self-inquiry.

Dear Shishmanidov,Namaste.

DRPVSSNRAJU | Sun, 04/17/2011 - 08:33
joejo's picture

Turning the Mind Inward

Turning the Mind inward is self-enquiry. The Mind here includes the emotions or heart as is known commonly.

Heart where Self resides is something entirely different and the very Goal of Goal or the great extinction if you like.

The I Am is still a part of mind but a very radical one or the Root.

The aim of witnessing thoughts aims at formless mind (pure) but the intent of Self-enquiry is to reach the Self, which gives the witness like character to the mind, which is (by itself) supposed to be insentient.

joejo | Sun, 04/17/2011 - 13:38
bestpsychic's picture

Really informative. Thank

Really informative. Thank you for sharing! :)

bestpsychic | Mon, 05/16/2011 - 04:01