Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakening

Discuss the February philosophy book of the month Irrationally Yours by Dan Ariely.

Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakening

Post Number:#1  Postby Kungwu111 » March 21st, 2016, 11:14 pm

Self Realization or Awakening is beyond all religions, and it cannot be a personal achievement.

What I want to share with you here is inquiry and recognition about the true self which came through some direct experiences.

Who am I really? What cannot be doubted is “I exist”. Apparently, I am that (the subject) which is aware. What is the subject of the awareness then?

The most significant aspect of the human mind is conceptual thinking. Everyone starts to form a “me concept” soon after birth, under the influence of one’s family and society: first you get a name; then you form some kind of idea about one’s appearance, sex, personality, etc; then you have family roles such as a daughter, a son, a wife, a husband, a mother or a father, etc.; then you have social roles such as a student, a doctor, a nurse, etc; some may have religious roles such as a Christian or a Buddhist, etc. Most people never question the reality of the “conceptual I”. However, it is obvious that I am not any concept (the object which I am aware of). I am the one (the subject) who is aware of all concepts. What is the subject that is aware of everything then?

Apparently, the true answer to this question cannot be conceptual as I am the one who is aware of all concepts. Since the human mind is used to complex thinking in addition to the influence of religions, cultures, etc., a common sense question such as this seemed to have become mysterious. The true answer to this question is within everyone but dormant in most people. That is why self realization is also called awakening.

When facing the question “what am I”, the conditioned mind will habitually come up with all kinds of conceptual answers. The most common assumption is “I am a body with a mind”. The true self is that which is aware of all organ senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel, etc.) and all thoughts. What is aware of all this?

Some people may sense "I am not just the body with a mind". Hence imagination of what "I" might be in the spiritual world arises, and this "I" then appears to be somewhere out there and unreachable. Again, what is aware of all imaginations?

When you are in stillness, you may be able to sense that you are the awareness itself. There are many other words used for pointing to the true answer: consciousness, beingness, stillness, presence, spirit or emptiness, etc. It is necessary to point out: Since humans are used to seek answers through thoughts or concepts, it is a common trap to mistake pointers as the answer in self inquiry. The principle is the same with "finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself". The seeker needs to see the moon in the direction the finger is pointing to. Just like the moon’s physical existence, the existence of the awareness (“I”) is beyond doubt. What does the awareness point to then?

This seemingly simple question has puzzled humans since the beginning of time. This is because the true answer to this question cannot be spoken. Self inquiry will inevitably exhaust the conditioned mind. No objects, including thoughts, feelings, emotions and phenomena can be you because you are that which is aware of them. They cannot stop you from being the awareness but they can be obstacles to its self recognition. When the mind eventually gives up and stops its attempt to come up with any conceptual answers to the question "what am I", the grace for the awareness to reveal itself may come. For example, there are people who believed in Buddhism for many years or even decades only experienced self realization (awakening) after they set aside all Buddhist teachings and face the question directly. Of course, there is no certain way as to how the experiences of the self recognition or awakening happen. Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now”, had such an experience when he was 29 years old. Here is the paragraphs from the book:

““I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that I cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”

I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts...”

The next morning he was truly “awakened”...

When the true answer to the question "what am I" is revealed or recognized through direct experience, it is seen that the awareness itself (your true self) does not come and go. It is not born and it cannot die. The awareness is always present. It is beyond space and time. It is untouchable and unchanging. It is limitless and timeless. Nothing can then really shake the deep peace within you. Isn’t this what everyone truly wants in their deepest being?
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#2  Postby Ormond » March 22nd, 2016, 9:08 am

Nice post for articulating the Tolle perspective.

Apparently, the true answer to this question cannot be conceptual as I am the one who is aware of all concepts.


Yes, so given that the answer can not be conceptual, let's go ahead and dump all the questions, answers, concepts, Tolle books, your and my posts etc. You are right that people confuse the finger pointing to the moon with the moon, so let's put our fingers back in our pocket to remove the distraction. To speed things along let's go ahead and forget about playing the self inflating role of guru, sage, teacher, holy one and all of that juvenile silliness.

The key to discarding all this heavy baggage is to drop the demand that peace within be made permanent. You said as much here, almost...

When you are in stillness, you may be able to sense that you are the awareness itself.


When you are in stillness, be still. Never mind about what you're going to sense, or learn, or see, or achieve and all the rest of that nonsense Tolle is always trying to stuff his reader's head with.

If we are willing to drop the unrealistic demand for permanent peace, then the stillness itself is all that is required, and all the esoteric understandings etc can be ignored.

It's the simplest thing. We, and the conflict we are running from, are both made of thought. As we turn down the volume of thought, "me" and the conflict fade. That's all there is to it.

Luckily, stillness can be reached by simple mechanical exercises that are no more complicated than doing situps.

And therein lies the problem for most Tolle students. If it is simple, there is no need for gurus and teachings and paths and goals and holy mountains and so on, which tends to ruin this entire subject for the typical Tolle student, because all the ego fueling glamour is removed.

Since humans are used to seek answers through thoughts or concepts, it is a common trap to mistake pointers as the answer in self inquiry.


Yes, so please stop adding to the pile of pointers, as that just confuses people and makes this seem so much more complicated than it actually is. Stop building the trap that readers will step in and then get stuck in.

If you want to be a teacher, teach them to meditate, and have enough faith in stillness to trust it to do the rest.

Or, if you prefer, prove to us that permanent peace is accessible. You might start by giving us a list of names of folks who already have it.
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#3  Postby Kungwu111 » March 22nd, 2016, 11:48 am

Thank you. I see the words fail again, and again... I appreciate your input. I'll see if I can find words that can express more closely or clearly what wants to be expressed...

For now, I can replace "when you are in stillness" with "when your mind is quiet".

Thanks again, sincerely :)
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#4  Postby Ormond » March 22nd, 2016, 6:16 pm

Hi Kungwu,

First, apologies for my somewhat over dramatic post above. Perhaps I'm making that morning coffee a bit too strong? :lol:

Second, it may help to focus on the degree to which "nothing can then really shake the deep peace within you" is possible. That is, are we talking about permanent or temporary peace of mind?

If permanent peace is the proposal then you are correct that some fundamental shift of perspective would be necessary. What that shift might be and how it might be accomplished could be further discussed.

If temporary peace is the proposal then perhaps the question becomes, what are the simplest and most widely accessible methods which can serve the greatest number of people?

FYI, I've been studying this subject for over 40 years, so I understand what you are saying above, and feel you are doing a good job of expressing that perspective. Your words are not failing, at least in the case of this reader.

Are you interested in a challenge to that perspective? Or would it be better if I left you alone in peace to preach this gospel on the various forums where you are presenting it? I'm agreeable either way, your call.
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#5  Postby Kungwu111 » March 22nd, 2016, 7:22 pm

Hi Ormond,

It's all good.

"nothing can then really shake the deep peace within you" - the keyword here is "really"...like the water on the surface of a lake could be rippled when wind blows but the bottom of the lake remains still...

It is the attempt of this whole article for "some fundamental shift of perspective" - You are not your mind or the conceptual identity you have of yourself. You are the awareness itself. Understanding this at the mental level will not do it. Its true recognition (self recognition of the awareness) can only happen through direct experience...

My experience was one day about 6 years ago, I was reading "Stillness Speaks" (by Eckhart Tolle) while I was contemplating what is this stillness...by looking around a plant on our balcony...the stillness is inside and outside the plant, completely...how...what..is this stillness? There was no conditioned thoughts. It was a totally innocent contemplation and it happened. When it happened, it could never be forgotten again. It could fade a bit now and then, but it cannot be totally forgotten...then it grows stronger and stronger, more and more stable...like reconditioning your system...

Blessings :)
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#6  Postby Kungwu111 » March 23rd, 2016, 2:45 pm

It's all good.

"nothing can then really shake the deep peace within you" - the keyword here is "really"...like the water on the surface of a lake could be rippled when wind blows but the bottom of the lake remains still...


It is the attempt of this whole article for "some fundamental shift of perspective" - You are not your mind or the conceptual identity you have of yourself. You are the awareness itself. Understanding this at the mental level will not do it. Its true recognition (self recognition of the awareness) can only happen through direct experience...


My experience was one day about 6 years ago, I was reading "Stillness Speaks" (by Eckhart Tolle) while I was contemplating what is this stillness...by looking around a plant on our balcony...the stillness is inside and outside the plant, completely...how...what..is this stillness? There was no conditioned thoughts. It was a totally innocent contemplation and it happened. When it happened, it could never be forgotten again. It could fade a bit now and then, but it cannot be totally forgotten...then it grows stronger and stronger, more and more stable...like reconditioning your system...

What you are looking for is what you are looking from...

Blessings :)
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#7  Postby Burning ghost » March 24th, 2016, 2:19 am

Was it Wittgenstein or Chomsky who said "without language there is no "I""?

Basically the embodiment of an abstract concept has abstract meaning. You may as well ask what is "cat".

Anyway, that aside I strongly disagree with the first paragraph. I the reason religion exists is precisely because this ... some religions have embraced it more than others (Buddhism being the obvious one).

Shamans, as psychopomps, help people into this "self-inquiry" too. That can be seen today south american society.

Through various different means people can achieve certain states of mind. All, and to over emphasis, ALL religions have a history of such precedures. Trance dance, prayer, fasting, sensory deprivation, concentration, chanting, isolation, etc,.

The state Tolle is referring to is called an ASC (altered state of consciousness) which can be achieved as noted above. Psychedelics, especially DMT, can produce something similar to these effects too and some believe it is DMT that produces thus effect in humans naturally but there is no direct evidence as DMT is ephemeral. Last I heard DMT was found in a rat brain ( that is the first instance of it being found naturally in a mammals brain).
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#8  Postby Kungwu111 » March 24th, 2016, 2:53 am

It only seems abstract before it is truly known through direct experience...
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#9  Postby Burning ghost » March 24th, 2016, 4:25 am

Kungwu111 wrote:It only seems abstract before it is truly known through direct experience...


"truly known through direct experience" meaning what?

Written/spoken language is an abstract symbolic thing. "I" is an example of thus abstraction just as is the number "one". I have no direct experience of the number "one" but I am certain that when I speak of "one" to somebody it is not a different "one" they are referring to.

"I" is an explanation of. It cannot be experienced other than as an explanation. Yes, I am being pedantic. It helps sift through misuse of language.

Use of language in philosophy is not the same as use of language in the everyday sense. If you have experienced this "I" can you perhaps talk us through this process step by step?

-- March 24th, 2016, 4:41 am --

Kungwu111 wrote:It only seems abstract before it is truly known through direct experience...


"truly known through direct experience" meaning what?

Written/spoken language is an abstract symbolic thing. "I" is an example of thus abstraction just as is the number "one". I have no direct experience of the number "one" but I am certain that when I speak of "one" to somebody it is not a different "one" they are referring to.

"I" is an explanation of. It cannot be experienced other than as an explanation. Yes, I am being pedantic. It helps sift through misuse of language.

Use of language in philosophy is not the same as use of language in the everyday sense. If you have experienced this "I" can you perhaps talk us through this process step by step?
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#10  Postby Ormond » March 24th, 2016, 8:47 am

Hi again Kungwu,

Kungwu111 wrote:"nothing can then really shake the deep peace within you" - the keyword here is "really"...like the water on the surface of a lake could be rippled when wind blows but the bottom of the lake remains still...


Yes, I understand.

It is the attempt of this whole article for "some fundamental shift of perspective" -


Yes, I hear you. My question was, to what degree is such a shift possible? Or to be more precise, to what degree is such a shift temporary or permanent?

A permanent shift of our fundamental psychology would be amazing indeed, and I can see why people want permanent peace, surely that is understandable. But...

Where is the evidence such a thing is possible, or possible for any significant number of people? As example...

If Tolle was serious about showing that he has achieved such a fundamental transformation he would volunteer for some challenging situation such as being in jail. At the least he would get a regular mundane job like most of students have to deal with. He would show us that it's possible to work the midnite shift at the bakery for minimum wage year after year, and still be happy.

But what does Tolle do instead? He puts himself on a big public pedestal, surrounds himself with adoring fans, and proceeds to get rich on their purchases of his services. My guess is that Tolle still feels small inside, like most of the rest of us, and that's why he is reaching for all this bigness.

My point is not that Tolle is a bad guy, because I really don't think he is. I just think he's leading a group fantasy that would best be set aside in favor of readily available common sense thought management techniques.

As example, do we search for the food that will end our hunger forever? No, we accept that we will need to eat regularly. We accept what is. We don't accept hunger, but we do accept the need to continually manage hunger. That is, we don't distract ourselves with an illusory search for a permanent solution. We are realistic, serious, practical. Managing hunger day after day isn't glamorous, but it beats the hell out of being hungry.

The search for a permanent peace is really just another glamorous becoming trip, like the quest to become rich, famous, popular etc. It's not acceptance of what is, it's avoidance of what is.

Of course I could be wrong, and hopelessly limited by my own silly little situation. So if you can provide a list of people who can demonstrate permanent peace by some method other than wonderful speeches, I'm willing to listen.

I'm actually open to the idea that some rare end of bell curve type individuals may exist who are to psychology what say, Mozart was to music, Einstein to science. But if true, I don't see their relevance to our lives. Mozart could teach us how to play piano, but not how to be a Mozart, which is essentially what Tolle is trying to do.

You are not your mind or the conceptual identity you have of yourself. You are the awareness itself. Understanding this at the mental level will not do it. Its true recognition (self recognition of the awareness) can only happen through direct experience...


I don't dispute such experiences can happen. My point is that once the experience is over we will be required to return to thought to function as a human being, and then "me" and all the rest of what goes with that will return. I'm suggesting making peace with the reality of being human. To think is to suffer, and we have to think at least some of the time.

My experience was one day about 6 years ago, I was reading "Stillness Speaks" (by Eckhart Tolle) while I was contemplating what is this stillness...by looking around a plant on our balcony...the stillness is inside and outside the plant, completely...how...what..is this stillness?


I had similar experiences over 40 years ago, and as you can see, I'm still yelling at people on forums. :D Not all the time, there are moments of stillness too. It's like the ocean, the tide comes in, the tide goes out, and it's foolishness to think I can change the nature of the ocean. It's wiser to just accept the times I get wet, and try to have a sense of humor about it.

Whoa, this post is an extra large thought wave at high tide. Watch out! Don't walk too close to the water if you're not ready to give up the fantasy Tolle is selling. :-)

-- March 24th, 2016, 9:00 am --

"truly known through direct experience" meaning what?


Reading about sex is something entirely different than having sex.

Philosophizing about mental stillness is something entirely different than experiencing mental stillness.

If you have experienced this "I" can you perhaps talk us through this process step by step?


"I" is made of thought. To the degree one lowers the volume of thought, or perhaps turns it off altogether, "I" vanishes.

Put another way, the division between observer and observed is eased, or erased. There is no longer "me" observing "reality". There is just reality, sometimes called "what is".

And then you sooner or later have to return to thought to function in the world, and then "me" and the division between observer and observed returns.

It could be said there is a permanent transformation in the sense that once we know how to take a break from thought and "me" we don't need to fear mental suffering so much.

Kungwu is right that we can talk about this all day long on forums for years, and it won't accomplish much beyond casual entertainment. This is one of those cases where one actually has to do the homework to get much out of it. Analyzing the homework from a safe distance is really just a way to put off doing the actual homework. Not that that's a crime or anything, sometimes we just aren't ready.
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#11  Postby Burning ghost » March 24th, 2016, 9:44 am

So why are we talking about it?
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#12  Postby Kungwu111 » March 24th, 2016, 11:56 am

Nothing to the conditioned mind is dead nothing; Nothingness to the true self is simply not a thing but completely alive (the source of all)...
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#13  Postby Burning ghost » March 26th, 2016, 2:37 am

Point me to the homework ... that is what I am requesting. Mysticism is elusive, but there is usually a meaning behind the words. Guide me to the homework, outline it, adumbrate it, use words as symbols to communicate to me what this "self", "self realisation" and "awakening" mean and how you come across it in your life.

-- March 26th, 2016, 2:40 am --

I dare anyone to say "look within"!!

That just doesn't say anything other than I don't possess the words to express it. I understand that any direct experience is difficult to express to another but you are here on this forum writing trying to write about it so go ahead.
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#14  Postby Ormond » March 26th, 2016, 9:56 am

Burning ghost wrote:Point me to the homework ... that is what I am requesting. Mysticism is elusive, but there is usually a meaning behind the words.


Mysticism is elusive for those who want it to be elusive, mysterious, exotic, esoteric etc. Many new age gurus specialize in providing this audience with the glamour they seek. If you want to read about it, talk about it, analyze it, and otherwise make it complicated, a philosophy forum or a new age guru might be a good choice.

Mysticism can be simple, straightforward and practical for those who prefer to look at things this way. Such a person may wish to skip explanations, even the word mysticism, and just get down to the business of experience. As example, such a person probably isn't too interested in reading fancy books about sex, they just want to have sex.

If you want to get on with doing it, simple meditation exercises patiently pursued is a good next step. The word "meditation" is used loosely here. Anything that helps you shift the focus of your attention from the symbolic to the real is worth pursuing.

If you want to get on with doing it, never mind about what it means. Imagine you are having sex and then you jump up out of bed and demand, "But what does this sex mean???" Silly, eh?

Philosophy is learning how to refine your thoughts. Meditation is learning how to turn them off. The two complement each other, because if you're not thinking 24 hours a day every day of your life the thinking you do will probably be sharper, clearer.

Does this help you zero in on the kind of homework you are looking for?
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Re: Self Inquiry - Direct Path to Self Realization, Awakenin

Post Number:#15  Postby Burning ghost » March 28th, 2016, 4:49 am

Think of what I am asking like this. If I want to understand what the experience of X is then I may read everything I can find relating to X. Here people are talking about X and I have read about X (I may have even experienced X myself), but what I am asking is.details of how you found X not the X itself. What is the method of attaining X and what are the common methods.

I have mentioned some in previous post. How do you relate your experience to them. Was one thing more prominent than another (isolation, concentration, fasting, etcs.,)?

-- March 28th, 2016, 5:00 am --

Think of what I am asking like this. If I want to understand what the experience of X is then I may read everything I can find relating to X. Here people are talking about X and I have read about X (I may have even experienced X myself), but what I am asking is.details of how you found X not the X itself. What is the method of attaining X and what are the common methods.

I have mentioned some in previous post. How do you relate your experience to them. Was one thing more prominent than another (isolation, concentration, fasting, etcs.,)?
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