I talk about the power of self-enquiry a fair bit in my musings about enlightenment and human consciousness, so I thought it might be good to tap out a simple how-to on the subject in case anyone finds it useful.
Self-enquiry, or self-inquiry, is a practice popularized in the west by the circulation of nondualist teachings from the renowned Indian sages Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. It requires no faith in any teacher, teaching or tradition, nor even in the practice itself. Self-enquiry is a method for inquiring for yourself into your own nature and discovering in your own firsthand experience what lies at the end of that investigation.
Most of our suffering and confusion (which is what the propagandists I write about rely upon to manipulate us into believing establishment narratives) stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the way our experience is actually happening. Partly due to culture, partly due to language, and partly due to the fact that we begin life as helpless little things at the mercy of an often terrifying world, we develop mistaken notions about ourselves, about our minds, and about the world, and we form conditioning patterns around those mistaken notions. Self-enquiry works to correct those fundamental errors and habits of perception, which allows for the possibility of a serene mind and an efficacious way of functioning.
Self-enquiry is a practice that you can engage in all day, every day, to whatever extent that you’ve got attention at your disposal for the endeavor. You can do it at work, while driving, while eating, in the shower, whenever. There are many different approaches to the practice, but here’s the way I’ve found useful, broken down into its five distinct steps. If it speaks to you, bookmark it and refer to it as often as you find useful:
Step 1: Begin with the premise that nothing you believe is true.
Since our suffering is premised on a misapprehension of reality, it’s necessary to first abandon all our beliefs about what’s real before beginning a sincere investigation.
The goal of self-enquiry is to come to a clear and present understanding of the real that is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. This means you need to abandon all your prior assumptions about what you are,