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Advaita and Self-Enquiry

thoughts & comment — 28 Sep 2010

FOR THOSE FOCUSED ON ADVAITA spirituality, self-enquiry is regarded as the main tool in realizing unity. However, I recently came across the following quote from Sri Ramana Maharshi in the book One by Jerry Katz:

There are two ways [to give up the illusion of "I"]; one is looking into the source of "I" and merging into that source. The other is feeling "I am helpless by myself, God alone is all-powerful…" thus gradually developing the conviction that God alone exists and the ego does not count. Both methods lead to the same goal. Complete surrender is another name for jnana or liberation.

Most of us focused on Advaita are aware of self-enquiry, but how many of us realize that you can get to the same place by simply surrendering to God or All-That-Is? I have always found self-enquiry too mindy and too formulaic for me, even though I know it works fantastically for other people. But surrendering to God or All-That-Is is something that is completely natural for me, as I am sure it is for many others as well. So if self-enquiry does not appear to be helpful, then try a dose of good old-fashioned surrender to God or All-That-Is.

Remember that Sri Ramana Maharshi died in 1950, at a time when the ego was not as pervasive as it is today. So self-enquiry was a workable tool because it had a good chance to prise away the false illusion of ego. But in a world where ego seems to be embedded in everything, where individualism is now king, self-enquiry can end up becoming a mantra, with no clear sight to realization because there is just too much ego to examine, and society is set up at every level to reactivate the illusion of that ego again.

Who am I?
What am I?
Who is the one asking the question?
What is it that wants this new book?
Who is stares back at me in the mirror?

Surrendering to All-That-Is, however, feels far less convoluted in today's ego-centric world; it cuts straight to the core. Many might not like this approach because loving God seems to be from the old world of religion, rather than from the modern world of meditation and spirituality; loving God seems… well… just so unsophisticated! Some even believe that the love of God is a genetic flaw placed into us by our creators in order to make us a slave race — to have a predisposition to oppression.

I disagree with that. The people I have been close to who have loved God the most have always been the kindest people who have loved their fellow human beings as well. (I don't mean those who love the dogma of religious texts — they can be quite cruel — but those who quite simply just love God, period.) In fact, those that love God in that way tend to be the most self-less.

So if self-enquiry is not working well for you, try to surrender to All-That-Is, and to the power of All-That-Is, in the realization that All-That-Is takes care of everything, and that everything is divinely orchestrated. That simple love and trust in complete and divine orchestration is the most important tool these days for authentic realization. And because we are now in the time of the Great Heart Awakening, it has never been easier or more natural to surrender to All-That-Is.

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