Tell me if you’ve noticed this: If given the chance, your mind loves to wander off on its own, going to dark places where self importance or self pity breed. The ego is terrified of truth, because in the end the ego knows it won’t exist. So it’s always leading the mind to tangential places, away from the Truth.

The truth is, we don’t know who we really are. What we call Self is a bundle of thoughts, beliefs, emotions and identities. We define ourselves with these layers upon layers of masks, veils and blankets that only cover up who we truly are.

So how do we lead our minds back to the Truth? to the real Self?

Atma-Vichara, or Self-Inquiry is considered the noblest of practices in the journey to Self Realization. Self-Inquiry helps us to understand our inner self, unfold our potential, and find our purpose. It is the path of choice for many wisdom seekers on the Way of Wisdom (Jnana Yoga).

The technique of Atma-Vichara is simple enough: when you’re seated for your meditation, repeatedly asking yourself the question, “Who am I?” This practice allows you to bring your mind constantly back to the Self. Every time you catch your mind somewhere else, bring it back to asking “Who am I?”

The trick to asking this eternal question is to put your attention on the answer that arises from within (and not from the mind). The mind is quick to respond! But keep asking the question. Continue peeling back the layers. As Nisargadatta Maharaj explained so eloquently, to go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.

Once you start practicing this technique, you’ll start noticing the layers of:

  • Form and Thought: you already know that you’re not just the body, but you’ll also notice that you’re not just the mind, the intellect, or the ego
  • Senses: you know that you’re not limited by your 5 senses of the body; you’re so much more that you can’t quite sense – just beyond the senses
  • Emotions and Beliefs: you’re not defined by your happiness or hatefulness, pride or greed; money, love and lust are only temporary, and your beliefs of responsibility and obligation are simply thoughts.
  • Doings: you’ll figure out that all your actions, services, practices, pilgrimages, scriptures are nothing in the end.
  • Birth and Death: you can sense that you don’t die when your body dies, that you were born as your Self and you’ll go on after death as your Self.
So in the end – who am I? Who are You?

It takes courage to ask this question, to listen for the answer that arises!



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