The Path of Self Inquiry refers to a spiritual way or route that another person has formed. However, in Self-Inquiry, many Paths lead to the same destination. Therefore, there is no such thing as one single Path to follow during the practice of Self Inquiry.
Self-Inquiry is always the same across the board. Its only purpose is to bring about a new understanding of the nature of who “you” are. There is only one realization, regardless of the vehicle or tool we use for this exploration, the recognition of the nature of the “Self.”
The challenging aspect of Self Inquiry is finding which Path among the many types is the right one for you. There is no path better than the other; every chosen Path by an individual only means a strong sense of compatibility between both.
“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one Path. Listen to your “own” truth.”– Ram Dass
We must keep in mind that Self Inquiry is the action of SELF-OBSERVATION, which is not a “particular” method. Self-Inquiry is widely known and related to Ramana Maharshi’s “Who AM I” method; however, in truth, Self-inquiry is a natural intellectual movement of self-observance.
Self-Inquiry falls into two categories, EXTERNAL (extrinsic) SELF-INQUIRY & INTERNAL (intrinsic) SELF-INQUIRY; for more information and an in-depth exploration on this issue, please visit this article:
THE PATHS ARE ENDLESS within INTERNAL (intrinsic) SELF-INQUIRY; however, we can classify all within these three categories below.
|This type of realization arrives through the dissolution of false self-identity (Meditation, Mindfulness, etc.)
|The understanding is achieved through objective examination, exposing, and vanishing false concepts.
|Realization is reached through sudden realizations and epiphanies via fundamental questions about existence.
Notice that all descriptions point to a realization of understanding the false as FALSE. The reason for this is that truth is non-conceptual; it would be arrogant to say, “this is the absolute truth,” so the best approach we can take is to recognize what is NOT conceptually.
e.g., You are not your possessions; you are not your body; you are not this or that. This approach is the most intellectually honest; it brings the realization of what’s left at the “end” of the inquiry, meaning that if you continue to explore using this approach, all concepts vanish, revealing the realization of what truly IS is NOT a concept.
Many people inclined towards Self Inquiry commit the error of copy-pasting a method that doesn’t speak their intellectual style or language. They continue to push themselves through a path that becomes forceful, inadequate, and frustrating.
The seductive idea of the Path they are looking at causes the resistance to letting go. Sometimes you see a person taking a “particular” Path, so you like what you see and end up forcing that Path into you.
A person that is going through a difficult time with a “particular” path needs to be honest, stop, and evaluate the situation. When the person inquiries this, they will understand that it was a simple matter of compatibility.
Once this happens, the person will be amazed at how easy the adjustment was and how effortless the right Path will feel.
The table below shows a reference description that describes the “type” of person who is more compatible with each group mentioned above.
|This person has a Goal-driven mentality, achiever personality, ability to complete guided procedures, etc.
|These individuals usually have alpha personalities, over-analytical, with sophisticated sharp intellects.
|People in this group are deep thinkers, honest explorers; they possess open-mindedness and creative minds.
When choosing a path or “method,” we first need to understand our preferences, personality, style, and language. Is that simple. If you do this and still fail to feel connected to the practice, rinse and repeat until fully satisfied.
Following is an in-depth look into the three main categories for the Path of Self Inquiry. Take a close look at each of them so you can find your very “own” compatible Path. Keep in mind that you might find yourself fit not with just one, but perhaps with two, or with all three. If this is the case, I suggest you begin with only the one that “feels” to be the best; later, you can try the other categories.
This category of Self Inquiry is the Path of Methodology. These practices are commonly systematical and executed by following steps and procedures. This Path aims to reach a non-dual state or experience through the dissolution of false self-identity. Such understanding will not be conceptual, or, in other words, it will be challenging to conceptualize and almost impossible to share with others.
People that possess the ability to follow guides and step-by-step procedures without going crazy will find this Path very enjoyable; they do not find interest in overanalyzing complex ideas. These groups of individuals are executers and are incredibly efficient during a task.
If you find yourself within this category, make sure that whichever method you choose fully satisfies you, meaning that you completely TRUST it, you see yourself committing to it, and it makes sense. This approach will make the whole experience smoother and will increase the chances of succeeding.
Some examples of this “structured” Path are practices such as:
- Classical Meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Atma Vichara
- Focused Meditation
- Contemplative Meditation
- Movement Meditation
- Karma Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Raja Yoga
Intellectual Objective Explorations
The Objective Path intends to reach a complete intellectual understanding and satisfaction towards uncovering the false as FLASE. This type of inquiry focuses on dissecting the exploration conceptually with a “skeptical” approach.
People under this category will never accept faith or poetry as truth; they need to process and evaluate every single detail about the inquiry in question.
This action is NOT merely a stubborn attitude; it is a scientific and highly intellectual exploration that the person needs to examine because of their “own” analytical mind. This group of individuals possesses a very sharp intellect. There is no other possible Path but to reason out the subject.
Some examples of this “Objective” Path are:
- Self Observation
- Self Investigation
- Self Contemplation
Philosophical Poetic Metaphors
This Path category uses profound stories, imagination, poetry, and metaphors, which leads the individual to the understanding of seeing the false as FALSE, allowing a realization of truth.
This phenomenon usually comes via epiphanies, which bring new “light,” knowledge, and understanding to the individual. In most cases, this Path seems compatible with people who have creative and artful minds. This group usually has a peaceful, positive personality and lightness of character.
Similar to the Structured category, this realization phenomenon is merely impossible to share; the reason is that it is subjective and relative to the individual’s experience. Some examples of this “Objective” Path are:
- Philosophy of science
- Ancient literature
- Inspirational books
- Psychology books
- Mystical literature
You might find that your personality has lots or a little bit of everything from another Path. This situation is fine; it only means that you’ll be able to explore several methods, which in the end, it is a healthy recommendation for every person regardless of their personality or liking.
For a list of CATEGORIZED Self-Inquiry practices, you can visit or “Try it” section by clicking here! Feel free to browse around; for sure, you’ll be able to find many exercises fitting your “own” style.
Truth is not a democracy. The person whose finger is pointing to the moon is unimportant; what is important Is the Moon itself. Think of it as many people climbing a mountain.
There is no such thing as one “exclusive” way to reach the top of the hill, the Paths that might seem complicated to you, for sure, will be easy for others and vice-versa. There is no need to judge other Paths or other people; work on yourself, and leave the rest alone.
Try these 5 Minute Meditation Exercises inspired by methods & teaching from Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Adyashanti, Ram Dass, Neem Karoli Baba, and many other truthful and honest teachers.