“Who am I?” Self Enquiry – what it is and what it does to you.
Self-enquiry is a crucial practice for spiritual development, fostering introspection and self-realization. It involves introspection about one's true nature, including thoughts, emotions, and actions. This can lead to deeper insights about our true nature beyond the physical, emotional, and mental states.
Swami places high important on self-enquiry. Sathya Sai Baba also emphasized the importance of self-enquiry. He once said, “To get rid of the demonic qualifies, man has-to embark on self-enquiry: "Who am I?" Scriptural scholarship is of no avail in this enquiry. Athmik bliss (Atma-Anandha) can be realized only by recognizing that the same spirit dwells in all beings. This realization can be got only by spiritual enquiry.” Swami on another occasion also said, "Self-inquiry leads to self-realization. Self-realization leads to self-satisfaction. Self-satisfaction leads to self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice leads to Self-divinity."
This method of questioning oneself is closely associated with the question "Who am I?" as a means of delving into the nature of the self. Continuously asking oneself "Who am I?" and deeply contemplating the answer can peel away layers of illusion, leading to the realization of the true Self, which is considered divine, eternal, and one with the universal consciousness (Brahman).
The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 10, Verse 20) also reflects this perspective: "I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings." Here, Lord Krishna signifies the divine consciousness that resides within everyone.
Several philosophers and thinkers from around the world also highlighted the importance of self-enquiry.
Socrates: "An unexamined life is not worth living." This famous quote underscores the value of self-enquiry in leading a meaningful and fulfilled life.
Rumi: "Who am I in the midst of all this thought traffic?" This quote from the Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi echoes the sentiment of self-enquiry, where we seek to find our true self amidst the chaos of our thoughts and perceptions.
Carl Jung: "Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." The Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst suggested that true awakening and understanding come from introspection and self-enquiry.
Lao Tzu: "Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." This quote from the Taoist philosopher emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge and self-mastery.
All these quotes underscore what Swami says about how self-enquiry can lead to self-awareness, wisdom, and spiritual growth. It is a journey of self-discovery, peeling away layers of conditioned thought and perception to reveal the true nature of one's self.
Performing self-enquiry is valuable not only for spiritual growth but also in our day-to-day life.
Self-Knowledge: Self-enquiry provides a deeper understanding of oneself. It helps you recognize your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, emotions, motivations, and behaviors. This understanding is crucial for personal growth and development.
Inner Peace: By understanding the nature of your thoughts and emotions, self-enquiry can help manage stress and anxiety, leading to a sense of inner peace and tranquility.
Improved Relationships: When you understand yourself better, you can communicate and interact more effectively with others. This can lead to improved relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
Better Decision Making: Self-enquiry can lead to better decision-making as it increases self-awareness. When you understand your values, beliefs, and motivations, you can make decisions that are more aligned with your true self.
Life Purpose: Self-enquiry can help you discover your life's purpose. By understanding what truly motivates and fulfills you, you can align your life with these insights.
Emotional Well-being: Self-enquiry can promote emotional well-being. Understanding your emotions, why you experience them, and how you react to them can lead to greater emotional intelligence and resilience.
In essence, self-enquiry is a tool for self-improvement and spiritual development. It allows for the exploration of the self beyond surface-level perceptions and beliefs, revealing a deeper understanding of one's true nature and place in the world.