In his upadesha sAra, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
equates self-enquiry to a continuous sort of
reflection (sarala-chintana) which is like the
pouring of ghee in an unbroken string or the
smooth flow of a stream. Self-enquiry, therefore,
is not simply sitting and repeating the question "Who
am I?" without doing anything.
Such reflection is the traditional neti, neti
(understanding the body, mind, ego etc. for what
they really are) which leads one to the non-negatable
substratum of "I am" that answers the "Who
am I?" enquiry.
This reflection is something that can be practised
during free time. After a while, the practice
naturally grows on the seeker to grant him an
awareness of himself that is quite contrary to
his erstwhile assumptions of himself.
From then on, the awareness remains an evident
background whatever one does in his mundane roles,
i.e. despite the innumerable demands of the roles,
the role-performer remains awareness - unperturbed
and untouched. That is the "I am" default
of Nisargadatta Maharaj if I understand him right.
I would even venture to say that constant reflection
would let this awareness percolate into dreams
and enlighten the darkness of sleep so that ultimately
the seeker metamorphoses into eternal wakefulness,
which is his real nature.
You can engage yourself in algebra problems
or in conversation. But, if you practise the
reflection so kindly prescribed by Bhagavan,
a time will soon come when you will be yourself despite
the demands of algebra and chatter on your brain
and tongue, which you are not in any way and
with which you don't identify any more.
Attention is a limited commodity. You cannot
attend to or concentrate on more than one thing
at a time.
Here is a way you can walk back to Yourself
from the above statement. When you concentrate
on something, you are not aware of yourself because
attention is a limited commodity. So, when you
are attentive to things one after another in
a continuous stream, do you exist or not? You
definitely exist. That is why you are aware of
other things. So, the awareness of things other
than you validates only your existence - "I
am". You are every bit of what you are aware
of. If that is the case, you are the one appearing
as this multiplicity. You know that you can't
be a multiplicity because you are One. So, the
multiplicity is simply negatable. What remains
is then "I am". You have now answered
the "Who am I?" question of Bhagavan
and found the Unity in diversity.
You are the twinkle of the stars, the peal of
thunder, the roar of the oceans. Yet, you are "You
Are" - the "I am" which is the only
answer there to the question "Who am I?"
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