Friday, December 19, 2008

Self-Inquiry is the Direct Approach to Enlightenment by Katie Davis, Author, Awake Joy

The Self-inquiry teachings that Katie Davis, author, Awake Joy offers are consistent with the Self-inquiry teachings of Adi Shankara and Ramana Maharshi, who is one of the most revered sages of modern day India. Most of Ramana's teachings were offered in silence, while simply being Heart; the still radiance. In addition, he shared that Self-inquiry is the most direct approach.

Silent "teachings" may be the most valuable for the aspirant. Without words, the ego is never engaged. Concepts and information are not really helpful for Self-realization. Yet, appropriate understanding of all that you are not is also recommended.

Katie Davis offers Silent Joy Satsang which is a full hour of silent sitting and other evenings offers regular satsang which includes meditation, Self-inquiry, a talk and an opportunity to ask questions on the teachings that were presented.

There are many other practices that are recommeded by teachers and some may be helpful, however practices require a "doer" who is the practitioner. For instance, chanting and kirtan can be so beautiful and when coupled with divine devotion, the mind shifts into harmony and peace, however the effect is usually only temporary. The one who is chanting is the ego "I" is the apparent obstruction between the pure consciousness that you are and the body. Chanting is exhilarating, divinely fun and pleasant indeed, however the misidentification with the "I" thought remains.

Likewise, while we are practicing meditation, the meditator is the ego "I." Meditation is excellent for bringing the restless mind into harmony and peace and it can be excellent for stress and our physical health. However, even after 20 years of practicing all of the profound levels and different techniques, the meditator remains ... the ego "I."

Plus which, the Heart is not a concept. It not an object upon which you meditate. That would mean that "you" are separate from formlessness. If you do practice meditation, please notice below in the article "Wisdom at Work" the form of meditation that I suggest. One can only BE the Heart.

It is true that as you become more and more conscious of the space within the world of form, you will also notice an ever increasing expansiveness within. We refer to that as space consciousness. The Heart is beyond both space and time, however when space consciousness begins arising, it is a sign that the altered state of consciousness is dissolving into the wisdom of the Heart.

Some recommend the practice of detachment from objects. This is nearly impossible for the ego "I" since its very purpose is to project out into the world of form to attach to other objects. Once again, the one who is practicing detachment is the ego "I." It must be seen that the false "I" thought is itself an object. This means it is merely an attachment itself. The ego "I" has no means of surrendering itself. In other words, the ego cannot surrender the ego. Detachment will profoundly, radically and spontaneously occur by itself, rather than something contrived and enforced by the ego.

In fact, as we have discussed, there is a purpose for holding onto to the "I" thought; the altered state of consciousness that we call the ego thought. This ego "I" thought projects from the Heart and as an analogy, I might say it leaves a "trail of bread crumbs" as it projects outward. If we will bring our attention directly to that "I," "I," "I," and then inquire, "who am I?" the ego disappears. It is like removing the "man" that never was in the first place. We seek the "I" and follow the "bread crumbs" home to the Heart. We are then able to rest as deep peace and as we are willing to continue inquiring, we will find ourselves able to rest for longer and longer periods of time as the Heart. This is the beginning level of Self-inquiry.

Eventually, all the forms of practice will finally arrive at the final question, "Who is 'I?" "Who am I?" So, the direct approach begins where all other paths stop. Why not let this be the first question and go directly?

In the beginning of the awakening, we do indeed use breathing and sensing so that we wake up out of time and get out of our heads and into the body. This is the pathway to the inner formlessness within. In the end however, it is a misperception when we refer to "within" the body and "outside" the body. That "inner" and "outer" is another mental construct that will be surrendered. It is the beginning, but it is not the deeper knowing.

Pure consciousness is indivisible and it has no parts. It has no form in order to call it inside the body or outside the body. All is appearing within the Heart and it includes everything. There is nothing separate from it. There is nothing that is not It. We could say that the body is a projection of the mind to which we are misidentified and the mind is a pale reflection of the pure consciousness or intelligence that it genuinely is.

We initially use witnessing to discriminate between that which is impermanent, coming and going or in modification. I am the only "thing" that is permanent and therefore, if I am still and permanent, I am able to discern finer and finer layers of the intellect that seem to be true and yet when modification is noticed, they too are released. Even the subject-witness itself will be surrendered and that is Self-realization.

Since you believe yourself to be your body, it seems like you are coming and going everywhere; another misperception. YOU never go anywhere ... as the body seems to move about in the world. You are not in the mirror of life; that is, the world of form. You are That which sustains all appearances; the Life that supports all living.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Katie
A friend of mine mentioned your site. An interesting article and I largely agree. However, I don't entirely. I recommend an effortless meditation first and foremost as a vehicle to connect to the silence. Inquiry can be very useful to break habits of mind but without some sort of Self-reference, some inner experience of Self, the exercise can be confusing. As any process to become Self depends on the deepening of that experience, something that takes a person into the silence is the platform for whatever else follows. With that inner experience, then practices such as Inquiry gain value for correcting habits of mind.

The above said, meditation alone without changing the habits and outlook outside of meditation can indeed result in positive benefits but without a "switch".

From what I've seen, detachment occurs when the depth of experience of the Self is deep enough. Then there is less investment in the personal. In other words, it is an effect rather than, as you observe, a cause. But not spontaneous.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Katie Davis, Author, Awake Joy said...

Welcome Davidya ~

Thank you for your visit and for taking a moment to share.

Yes, as you say, I would never point anyone away from essential meditation.

For many years, I started people first with meditation. Now, after sitting with people so frequently who had only a casual curiosity about awakening and when guided in the Self-inquiry, they were kissed by satori, I no longer hold it back for any type of readiness. Surprising and amazing... A glimpse and "the head is in the tiger's mouth." :-)

Others only come up with nothingness, so it is not true for all by any means.

It still does not take the place of meditation, since it is neither permanent nor complete.

Regarding "detachment," I label the gradual withdrawal from objectivity through practice as dispassion. A directed conscious withdrawal of the senses from their objects. I have never seen it work in the long run, because the one that is practicing is still an object onto itself. That said, it may work, but I have not observed it.

The first attachment is "I" and when it falls, all the others fall like a wall of sand.

Plus which, the body is always appearing in the present moment, so sensing is a pretty good anchor for releasing time fixation and its compulsive thinking ... as is meditation.

When I use the word detachment, it is radical, profound, complete and can happen for out of the blue spontaneously. Easier with readiness, a little more ruthless without.

What I am speaking of is the complete detachment from the universe of experience, which leaves "I am the witness only."

Form is like heat haze and distant. The subject-witness still is witnessing the detached world of experience or witnessing the Heart dimension in an objective manner, which means of course a subtle duality remains which will be eliminated.

As you realize, in the beginning, people perceive "someone" awakening. In the end, we see that it is consciousness itself that is disidentifying with form and no longer getting lost in itself. That really means that virtually everything is spontaneous and can consciously arise within any being ... and then usually interpreted as happening in one place or another. Of course, that also means that it is causeless. :-)

I am delighted to share in your wisdom. You must be offering beautiful teachings somewhere. Please let me know your website, so that I can meet you.

Gratefully ~ Katie

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your feedback, Katie.
I've come to the conclusion that a variety of approaches are good. The person then finds what works best and is aware of other tools for other stages. Head, heart and grip are covered. As you suggest Self finds its way to Itself.
Yes, detachment falls when there is no grasper. When we step into the observer. You use great visual words.

Well, I don't know about "teachings" but I am called to write and do so via a blog. My name is the link.