The Great Question
"The practice of Self-Inquiry is to take you to Silence instantly."
It has been said by many great teachers and sages, including everyone from Mooji and Adyashanti, to Rupert Spira and Eckhart Tolle, that meditation and every other spiritual discipline, is simply a preparation for Self-Inquiry, which is the highest spiritual practice we can do. In this practice, we simply bring a question (the 'Great Question' as Zen Master Seung Sahn called it), to the mind. With this simple question, we open the door to the depth of our own Being - that great freedom which is behind and beyond our thinking mind. In fact, through Self Inquiry we discover That which is listening and witnessing the thoughts arising in the mind. This can only happen through direct experience, and by posing this simple question, we go beyond our ideas and concepts about who we are, to the direct knowing of our Self as pure Awareness. As the great sage Ramana Maharishi once said:
"Our identification with the mind and body is the chief reason for our failure to know ourselves as we are. You have to ask yourself the question," Who Am I?" The question, Who Am I is not really meant to get an answer. It is meant to dissolve the questioner. This investigation will lead, in the end, to something within you which is behind, and beyond the mind. The inquiry, Who Am I, turns the mind within and makes it calm."
Practicing Self-Inquiry is usually most effective after you have sat in meditation for at least 10 minutes. After settling down, simply bring the great question, "Who Am I" to the mind. Let the question drop like a pebble on the top of your head, and let the ripples flow gently down into your Being without 'looking' for an answer in your mind.
Let the question be enough.
If you find yourself trying to find an answer with your thinking mind, just remember that you are not your thoughts, and that the 'answer' has nothing to do with more thinking. Just relax, and fall into the Silence at the end of the question; just beyond your mind. There are other very potent questions that you can also use, which will have the same effect of opening you to the Stillness and depth of your own Being. Among these are, "Who, or what is listening to my thoughts?" or "Before my next thought, Who Am I?" Bringing the question two or three times should be enough.
Through the practice of Self-Inquiry, we reach the Silence and Spaciousness at the heart of our Being very quickly, and find the culmination of what the practice of meditation is all about; the discovery of ourself as the pure Light of Awareness. There is no more powerful or effective practice to wakeup to the Reality of who, and what you are, if that's what you truly want.