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How to practice continuous self-enquiry? || (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, how do I live my daily life regardless of my family, job, financial situation, mood, or body to reach the Truth? Ramana Maharshi says,

“One’s duty is to practice continuous self-inquiry.”

I am not able to practice continuous self-inquiry due to mind’s tendencies. Please help and guide me.

Acharya Prashant (AP): I want to enquire into your question. You are asking how to live a life dedicated to Truth, irrespective of one's family, job, financial situation, mood, or body. I want to ask that why do you want to keep these things outside the purview of self-inquiry or Truth? You are saying, “Let these things be there, let these things be there as they are, and let me reach the Truth.” Why are you asking that?

The real seeker is prepared to devote, sacrifice everything that he has, to his enquiry. He can dedicate everything to the Truth. Why are you keeping these things secure? Why do you want to reserve them? How are they so important? Truth should be the center of your life, only then self-enquiry is possible. With Truth at the center of your life, you look at your life, your job, your wife, your family, your body, your moods, everything.

In fact, the one who is looking is the Truth. There is no difference between Truth and the Witness. ' Satya ' and ' Sākṣī ' are one. With your utter devotion to the Truth, you become a witness of everything in your life. You cannot say that "I am not prepared to look at my finances or my family or my job or my mood or my body." That's exactly what you have to look at. That's not what you have to ignore. Please, spirituality is not about ignoring your daily life. Spirituality is about inquiring into your daily life and that alone is self-enquiry.

Self-enquiry does not mean inquiring into the Truth. The mind cannot enquire into the Truth. That's the fundamental message of Vedanta. The mind is incapable of venturing into the Beyond. But the mind can surely look at its own projections. The mind can surely look at the family, the job, money, relationships, tea, coffee, house and car, kids, and measles. That's what the mind can definitely look at.

The mind does know by way of experience when it is afraid, or does the mind not know that? The mind cannot know God but it can surely know greed, because greed is available to experience. God is not available to experience. And what is it that you are telling me? You are saying, “I want to enquire into God and I want to keep greed aside. Greed, I don't want to look at.” Now, what kind of self-enquiry is this?

Please, leave God alone, enquire into greed. Leave the Truth alone, enquire into temptation. Leave the far Beyond alone, enquire into fear.

That's the thing with so many spiritual seekers. They say, “We are getting into spirituality to add some kind of value to our life.” They say, “We have money, we have respect in the society, we have a nice family and kids, and we have a reasonably healthy body. We have achieved much that can be achieved in the world. Now, we want to achieve something more.” So, they say, “Now we want to cross the God frontier as well. That is the last frontier remaining to be conquered. All other battles have been won.”

No, that mental model is fundamentally flawed. God is not the last frontier. God is the beginning point. You cannot say that you have crossed five rivers and God is the last one. Instead, God is your first step, your basic inspiration. If God is not there in your first step then all that you have accumulated so far is junk! We want to continue from the same center as has possessed us all our life and from that same center, we now want to have a new self. That cannot happen.

Spirituality is not about adding something to your life. It's about giving up the nonsense. The spiritual man won't have something extra compared to the commoner. He would have far less than the commoner. The commoner is so heavy. Look at his mind; tons of weight is there. The spiritual man is light. His possessions are few. He owns little. He doesn't have to carry much. He doesn't have to take care of much. He sleeps soundly.

People come and ask me, “How do we remain cool, calm, composed, and stress-free when we are working in our office?” But rarely are they daring enough to say that "I want to enquire into whether this office is right for me." Now the Truth by definition is that which cannot change. And if you are not prepared to change your job or relationships then you have turned your job as the Truth. Now, if your job is the Truth, which other Truth are you looking for? Your search stops, the moment you say you are not prepared to give something up.

That which can never be given up is the Truth.

And if you cannot give up something or anything, then you cannot search for Truth; because in your own eyes you already have the Truth.

That which is not negotiable at all is the Truth.

And if you have something or anything in your life that you are adamant about, that you would never compromise on, that you would never give up, then you can never search for the Truth.

The Truth-seeker has to be very flexible. The Truth-seeker must be open to all possibilities, including the possibility of disowning, even that which he holds very dear. If there is even one thing in your life, one thought, one idea, one relationship that you cannot do away with then your search cannot even begin. If you are looking for the Truth then, first of all, come and say, “All that I currently have is available to be given up.” You don't have to just throw it away but you should be ready to throw it away if need be. You have to express to yourself a willingness to do away with anything in your life if it is proven to be false.

If you are somebody who's saying, “I can give this up, that up but you know, these two things, I am too touchy and possessive about them, I cannot give them up” then I warn you, do not even begin your quest for Truth. That which cannot be given up is called?

Q: Truth.

AP: If you are saying you cannot give up your handkerchief then you already have the Truth. That's what you think. In your own eyes, you already have something that is inalienable to you. And if you have something that is inalienable to you, then why do you need Truth? Because only the Truth is that which is inseparable from you. Everything else must be totally separable.

So, do not come and ask me, “How do I make my life better while remaining in my office?” My question to you will be, “Why do you want to remain in that office? What comes first, peace or office?” Instead, so much of spirituality today is about remaining where you are and trying to peacefully adjust to the situations. And so many teachers are teaching and preaching that. And they will find a lot of people eager to listen to them, because it is the coward's way and most people are cowards.

The coward does not want a revolution. All he wants is rebates.

There are very few people who want revolutions. Most people just want rebates. "Give us a bit of discount. You hit us 10 times a day that is unfair; hit us only 7 times a day." And with this 30 percent rebate they are satisfied, they adjust. And there are so many teachers who will teach you how to remain relatively peaceful while doing the same dirty and obnoxious work. Why can't you just give up that place? Why can't you just give up that work?

If you will find out, you will discover your own scary and trembling self. You cannot give up that place because you are greedy. You cannot give that place because you are hungry for security. Now, what do you need to then talk about, self-enquiry or that place?

All these things that you have listed, are exactly the things that you must talk of. Enquire into them. That alone is self-enquiry. Family, job, financial situation, moods, and body; you have probably inadvertently listed all the things that you must know of. Please, venture into them.

Please ask yourself - What relates you to your family? What keeps you to your job? What's your relationship with your body? What makes your mood swing?

If you can ask these questions, if you can honestly examine your life, that's the deepest form of spiritual enquiry.

Isn't it obvious where your disturbances come from? Do people from Jupiter come and disturb you? Your disturbances come from exactly these same places — family, job, relationships, body, moods, money. If your disturbances come from here, where are you going to enquire? If your hand is aching, would you enquire into your hair?

Go to the right place. Go where the disease and the disturbance are. Have the faith and the courage to look at the problem in the eye. And if you can do that, you might find that the solution is present in the problem. That the solution is very much obvious. That the solution was elusive exactly because you are avoiding the problem.

Face the problem and the solution will be evident. Avoid the problem and you will spend a lifetime looking for solutions elsewhere.

Q: Acharya Ji, doing nothing is also a doing. What is this nothing?

AP: Just keep asking, "What is this nothing? What is this nothing?" If it is nothing, it is not. Don't settle down anywhere. Don't stop at any answer. The point at which you stop in your search for Truth is the point at which your falseness begins.

You have to be floating freely in the sky. You must be fearless enough to not seek the comfort of crutches. Truth is not for those who want to settle down. Truth is not for those who seek security in conclusions. Truth is for the ever vigilant. Truth is for those who can know without knowledge. Truth is for those who can realize without memory. Truth is for those who are available to the Total because they are not occupied with anything.

You have talked about doing nothing. It is not possible for the normal self, the ‘Ego’ to be doing nothing. Even when you are apparently doing nothing, the doer is still present. And that's the misfortune of the ‘Ego’. Even when it is doing nothing, it is still tired of doing much. And because it is tired of doing much, it actually cannot do much. It ends up doing nothing.

And the non-doer, he does much without doing anything. He appears to be doing a lot but actually, he's doing nothing. And he can do a lot precisely because he does nothing. His actions, his words arise from a place, he knows not. His actions, his words come from somewhere, he has never been to. His actions, his words, his thoughts are really not his own. He's not a doer, so how can he be tired?

Do not ask about ‘doing nothing.’ See whether being something has benefited you. As long as you are something, you cannot ‘do nothing.’

Doing nothing is possible only with being nothing. Are you nothing? When you are nothing then you become eligible to do much and you would still be doing nothing.

Doing nothing is not about the action not taking place. Doing nothing is not about thoughts not happening, or words not being uttered. Doing nothing is about action in the absence of the actor. Doing nothing is about words in the absence of the speaker. Doing nothing is about thoughts without the thinker.

And who is the doer, speaker, thinker? You are the doer, speaker, thinker. See, whether you are necessary. See, whether your existence helps you. See, whether or not it is far more relaxing to just sleep.

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