People come to the realisation of their true nature by many different ways, there is no one single “right” way or method, because what we call Absolute, God, Buddha Nature, our true nature, the Being, etc.- is unlimited, it includes the whole spectrum of form manifestations, and can realise itself through any form or method available.
Yet, there are two methods that persisted through thousands of years and served well to a uncountable number of people. These methods are meditation and inquiry.
Meditation helps us in many different ways.When practised regularly, it changes our brain activity on a very deep, physiological level. It helps to form new neural pathways which enable the mind to deepen its ability for perception and processing. Through meditation, the activity of our mind is diverted from focusing on habitual abstract thinking to a state of simply being, and more direct, intuitive perception of life.
Another invaluable benefit of meditation is increased capacity for self-observation, ability to observe and question thoughts and emotions instead of being driven and ruled by them.
In other words, through meditation, we prepare a kind of new ground for our mind, where something new, something different from old conditioned ways of relating to the world and self, could happen.
For such a mind, open and ready to perceive something new, an inquiry can become an extremely valuable tool. Various types of inquiry have been used through ages under different names, such as contemplation in Christianity and koan work in Zen. Well-known Indian sage and spiritual teacher Ramana Maharshi taught the method of self-inquiry – using the ultimate question “Who am I?” as a tool, a thorn to remove thorns of delusions from our mind. In our days, many spiritual teachers (Byron Katie, Adyashanti and others) use different methods of inquiry widely to help people to get clarity, peace, and ultimately, realise their true self.
The inquiry is very different from the analysis; when we analyse something we try to fit it into some existing system of values, comparisons, assign a meaning and a degree of “goodness” or “badness” to it.
The inquiry, on the other side, is the way to pose penetrating questions, with a goal of getting out of habitual, conditioned system of reasoning and logic and get you in touch with the immediate reality.
To practice inquiry, we can use questions like: “Is that true? How do I know that it is absolutely true? Is it true in every instance? Is it true right now?” These questions can help you see through generalisations and stories, which are useful only for inducing emotions and can be a source of a lot of suffering.
Sticky, habitual thought patterns and emotions clutter your inner space, preventing you from getting to a deeper part of yourself, where real peace and wisdom reside. Inquiry helps to see through them, see into their illusory, unreal nature. Once seen, they loose their power and, with time, disappear, living behind clarity, inner spaciousness and peace.
Whatever is your current purpose, whether it is just getting some peace and clarity or ultimate enlightenment, you can’t go wrong with meditation and inquiry. These two wings can carry you through hard times, help you to maintain your stability and integrity, keep your sanity amongst raging madness. They certainly were and remain my two best friends, my keys to a door leading to the most profound insights, to the depth and wonders that I could never imagine!