Let me explain…. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. ~ Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
The first part of Self-Inquiry is the process of reducing the feeling of who or what ‘I’ am (or is) to its essence. The process of removing the conceptual labels we’ve associated with our being to find out what is left of our being when nothing that we previously thought of as our being is left.
The second part is realizing that what we are can only be whatever remains. And that what remains is nothing other than being itself.
The Christian(ish) philosopher Paul Tillich calls this ‘being itself’ the Ground of Being. Spiritual teacher Rupert Spira calls it Awareness, or Consciousness. Indian sage Ramana Maharshi calls it the Heart, and equated it with the Self, or, in the traditional language of Indian spirituality, Brahman. Christian Mystics might refer to it as Christ Consciousness, or the Cosmic Christ.
Many in modern Western culture would call it nonsense, immediately dismissing it as unscientific New Age mumbo-jumbo.
But the sages who abide in this realization, either by grace or through practice, claim that this direct, experiential knowing is available to anyone who earnestly seeks to know, to understand. They say it can be approached scientifically, that it is a replicable study. The experiment has been outlined in Parts 1 and 2. The laboratory is your own mind and body. All that need be done is to sit in meditation and inquire into your true nature. It is simply a matter of asking the question Who Am I, eliminating what is irrelevant or impermanent, and seeing what remains. Whatever that is, ‘I’ is That.
When you realize this — that is, when you have experienced this truth for yourself — you realize bliss. The ego falls away, you see with new eyes, hear with new ears, feel with new feelings. Your knowing comes from a new realm, not the realm of acquired knowledge, as from reading a book or listening to a lecture, but from a place of deep intuition. The floodgates open to knowing from a place the intellect cannot go, but can only later contemplate and report back on in awe.
This is Self-Realization. This is the experience of God. It’s what Moses experienced at the burning bush: “Tell them ‘I AM’ sent you.”
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. ~ Exodus 3:14 (KJV)
I am That. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj