There is a phrase in the “Avadhuta Gita” that says – “self realization is the highest accomplishment of the human mind, everything else is of relative importance”.
The human mind has the potential to wake up from false identification with a “self image” and identify the true nature of the “being” which is the force behind all of existence. The process of “self inquiry” is a powerful tool, which the mind can use for self realization, if one is willing to be authentic.
Self inquiry requires that the mind pose several self discovery questions which will act as a bulldozer that breaks through the thick wall of conditioned thinking and point to truth of who we are.
Here’s a list of a few self discovery questions you can ask “within” to become free of the prison of the mind made sense of self.
1.) What is Present Below the Surface of Phenomenon?
The play of form is a thin veil over the eternal body of consciousness.
Ramana Maharishi alluded to consciousness as the white screen on which the movie of life is being played on. Sometimes he referred to consciousness as the light of the “projector” and the movie reel as the “forms” of existence. The movie cannot play without the light of the projector, similarly the play of existence is not possible without the light of consciousness.
A very pertinent self discovery question to ask yourself is “what lies below the surface level phenomenon like thoughts, feelings and emotions?”.
Our experiences are completely focused on our thoughts and feelings, while being unaware of the “awareness” which lies beneath the surface level phenomenon. This question can help as a pointer for us to become aware of “awareness” itself – this is what is called “awareness becoming aware of itself”.
This realization leads to awakening of the mind to the presence of awareness, which in turn opens the door to reach enlightenment.
2.) Who Am I?
This is a very popular question in the circles of non-dual teachings and spirituality. In truth this is a very “scientific” question and needs to be addressed with the objectivity of a scientist.
If you will be “spiritual” with this question, you might end up going into all sorts of “imagination”, and might create some beautiful experiences, but never touch the truth.
The question “who am I” does not need an intellectual answer. In fact all answers will miss the point.
This question is meant to be used as a pointer for the mind to look at the “emptiness” that lies beneath the surface of all ideas, thoughts and projections. This emptiness is not a “lack” but a fullness of being, who you actually are.
Reject all ideas and imaginations, and stay with the actual experience of “being” this emptiness.
3.) How is Awareness Experiencing This Moment?
This is a very powerful self discovery question and it can help you recognize how the “being” or awareness is actually experiencing reality. Or in other words how the real “you” is experiencing life.
You will be completely taken by surprise at the way awareness relates to reality, which is completely different from the way a mind made sense of “me” relates to reality.
You will notice that awareness is never in conflict with the present moment. It’s not fighting or resisting “what is”.
This is the primary difference between living as awareness and living as a “me”. The “me” is always in a resistive relationship with the present moment. It always wants to get away from “what is” and get into an imaginary future, which creates a consistent vibration of “unease”, lack, fear and discomfort.
You will also notice that awareness is completely at peace and it moves without any inner conflict or fear. The movement of awareness is the movement of “wholeness”, it does not seem to move from a position of “good or bad” but from a deeper intelligence.
Awareness is not “discontent” with this moment and yet it is moving towards a more expanded reality, so life keeps progressing but in a harmonious way. The “me” moves from fear while awareness moves from peace.
4.) Who is Really Suffering?
Whenever there is a lot of fear or anxiety in you, ask yourself this question – who is really suffering this?
This is again a very powerful question on self realization if one is willing to be authentic with it.
At first it might seem like a dubious question, because the mind would immediately say “Me, I am suffering right now”. However you must see that this is a “thought” and what you are looking for is the reality of the “sufferer”, so look deeper.
If you are authentic you will notice that though there is suffering in the body, the only one who is aware of it is the eternal, formless, empty “awareness”.
This awareness is not “your” awareness, it’s just awareness – it’s not a person. This awareness is your true identity, and it’s always at peace even if there are tumultuous emotions in the body. Only the “conflicted” mind creates resistance, and hence suffering.
Awareness is never in resistance to the flow of life and hence it allows for the harmonious unfolding of the well-being which is the essence of life.