First recognise who you are. This is the root of it all. Without this, you will assume that whatever is said here is a suggestion that you should or could actually do something out of your own separate volition. This question ‘who or what am I?’ is the most basic and fundamental question. It is a question that most children ask in some form or another. It seems that we come into this strange world and we have no idea what is going on! Perhaps we ask our parents who innocently feed us their limited view of life. Perhaps we just learn how to pretend that we know who we are in order to fit in and survive this crazy game. So with this question ‘who am I?’ we come back to before we started pretending. What is underneath, before and after all that pretending, trying, running, chasing, hoping and fearing? Who am I really? Self enquiry is not meant to be a practice to make you feel good or to be more aware. It is not a practice to help you stop thinking or worrying or to take away the pain. It is not a practice that will lead to an improvement in your experience or some kind of final goal of awakening. It is an investigation into what you actually know right now. I am not suggesting that you practice self enquiry. This very idea suggests that you have a problem that self enquiry can solve. I am suggesting that you might investigate what you can know beyond thought right now, not that you practice something to fix yourself or in order to avoid feeling bad. Chasing good feelings that you hope to have, and running from bad feelings that you fear, is an endless torture.
‘Waking up’ actually means waking up out of the dream of what you hope for or fear and actually seeing reality the way it is, whether you like it or not or whether it fits into how you think it should be or not.
Waiting for a definite sign that you know it or have got it, is only continually overlooking what is actually here already. When you don’t refer to your hopes and dreams, fears and beliefs, there is some space to recognize what is already right now. It is nothing like what you may have imagined. It is not special in the way that you may have imagined. It is nothing like anyone else’s awakening experience that you may have read about and compare yourself to. Anything that thought can come up with, is not it. In fact it is not an ‘it’. It is not any kind of object or experience (no matter how spiritual!)
Are you willing to lose all ideas and hopes of what you would like ‘it’ to be, in order to see that way it actually is?
Who you are is already all that you long to become. If you believe that you are a separate person who has to find a way to complete yourself in some way, then you will imagine that ‘awakening’ is something that you need to achieve one day. Forget about awakening for a minute, and without any expectations, just check what you really know right now. Ask the question ‘Who am I right now?’ and see what happens. Does thought spin around trying to know the answer? Does thought assume that there is a ‘correct’ answer? Does thought come up withone definite answer that is always absolutely true? Or does it change depending on your mood or what concept you are regurgitating in that moment? Do you know who you are without referring to any thought or concept, memory or imagination?
Are you expecting to have a major spiritual experience when you ‘get’ the answer to this question?
Are you expecting that ‘getting’ ‘it’ will change your life? Are you expecting to get enlightened and to float off on a cloud? If you have some kind of nice peaceful experience then that is totally irrelevant to the investigation. This is not about you getting anything, but simply about investigating the nature of reality. Not needing or expecting anything to happen and then see what actually is known (or not known) beyond thought.
Getting the joke of this question is simply the beginning..