The Fundamental question on the spiritual journey is
"Who am I?"
What is Self Enquiry?
Self Enquiry as suggested by Ramana Maharshi is a reminder to go to where the thought arises.
When a thought rises up “lunch time” – “When is lunch?” As soon as this thought arises rather than taking the thought, you ask yourself “To whom has this thought arisen?”
This thought about lunch. “To whom did it arise?” You immediately get the answer “to me”. Because you’re completely identified with me. This thought arose to “me”. And then you ask a second question “Who is this me?”
You think you know, but you don’t. The second question doesn’t have a verbal answer. You can say “I’m consciousness”. Well, that doesn’t really answer that question.
So you come to Silence, you fall into Silence. You fall into the Emptiness. This is actually Self Enquiry, its that simple. This question is a fundamental part of the spiritual investigation.
Self Enquiry Workshop with John David
In a Self Enquiry workshop we sit together, lovingly asking each other “Who are you?”
Through this exercise over some hours we notice deeply that all answers that we give to that question are not who we really are and after some time we fall deeper inside, looking for what the question can reveal inside of ourself.
This Exercise rather quickly, in a few hours, can bring people to have a taste of their True Nature, their being. Its a bit like going down into the clear water and suddenly wow, its so beautiful.
There is an Original Face, a Face that reflects our true Essence
During every retreat, we do something I call the Original Face, a simple exercise of being present. It’s an amazingly effective way to come in touch with our potential emptiness. The retreat participants come one by one to sit at the front facing all the others. For six minutes they make quiet eye contact with everyone. Each participant takes their turn and so this goes on for three to four hours.
Just by focusing on the eyes and absorbing the still energy they become present. Presence means that the organism is simply here, the Self is radiating and there is no conditioned mind. Sitting up in front of a group of open-hearted people during the Original Face and just being there, quiet and present, the activity of the mind automatically fades away.
It’s difficult to speak now, probably also to move or stand up. I felt I knew silence, and felt that there would be something after it, something grand and profound. Just looking around at the people there’s no desire to move. Absolute contentment just to be here.
Yes. It doesn’t mean that the body won’t move, but inside there is a still point. Whatever you do, wherever you go, it’s just still, and this person called ‘me’ doesn’t exist anymore. Just emptiness. It is a moment when you experience existence in a completely new way – simply by being quiet – and you are just present.When nothing is happening, nothing is happening. When something is happening, something is happening. There is no desire or intention, and you’re completely content just with ‘what is’. Without even noticing it, it’s total surrender. That’s what surrender means: acceptance of what is. When you are able to welcome that into your life, or rather ground your life in that, it is the most wonderful way to live. It’s really simple!
Oh yes! It’s like eating the best honey. Inside there is a very deep feeling that I have come home.
Existence gives us this amazing paradise. You only have to go outside and walk along the river, with the sun shining and the breeze blowing. It’s completely beautiful, even in the middle of winter. Everything is amazing! The sky, the clouds, the vast space, the flow of water in the vast river. But we can’t even be here for this beauty because as we walk along the river, what happens? We remember something that somebody said to us yesterday, ‘… and I got so upset and he didn’t understand me …’The possibility – amazingly – is not what you really expect.
You’re probably expecting all kinds of amazing practices, theories, principles and philosophies, but what is real can best be discovered by being quiet. The more you can be quiet the more likely you are to come to this beauty inside. It is the same beauty for everybody. It’s one beauty, one peace, and it never changes. Tremendous peace, oneness, and inner nourishment. That’s our nature; that’s our Truth.
It is only possible to come to your true nature when you don’t do anything at all. Then the Self radiates and everything that manifests is manifesting from the Self. Just be quiet and there you are. There you always are.”
John David encourages to reduce talking to essentials.
Being in Silence is a powerful way to reduce the noise and activity of the mind.
The first thing you can do is to stop talking, or at least not talk very much. And then the second thing you can do is to cultivate a quiet mind. If you can stop talking that will help your mind to become quiet because unfortunately the more we talk the more we activate the mental part, and then it’s very difficult to become quiet inside. There are many spiritual techniques to help with this, in particular many kinds of meditation. Then there are active practices like yoga, qi gong and tai chi and a myriad of breathing techniques.
From the enormous possibilities of spiritual techniques you can find the practices that best suit your particular situation.
One thing I can say is that there are different types of mind, of thought. We’re not very troubled by practical thoughts. We use the practical mind to solve a problem such as how to get to the airport, and when the problem is solved the thoughts stop. But there is another kind of thinking that goes something like this: What might happen on the way to the airport? Maybe I don’t have time. Maybe there are two entrances to the airport. Maybe we will have a crash on the way. There’s a traffic jam. These kinds of thoughts are generated by the thinking mind and when our thinking minds are not very quiet they can go round and round inside.
In order to live your life you need practical thoughts. In order to cook dinner you have to know where to get the groceries and how to use the stove, but thinking about a bad dinner last night and how you drank too much wine, this is a never-ending disturbance. These are the kind of thoughts that trouble us.
You’re asking if you need to slow down in order to quieten your mind. We often think of a ‘spiritual’ environment as being very silent, very quiet. My own spiritual schooling was in an ashram in India. The guru understood that we westerners have busy minds, so he set it up in a way that kept us busy half the day and meditating the other half. In this busy-ness we gradually learnt how, despite being busy on the outside, we could keep quiet inside by not identifying with and hanging onto our thoughts.
Self-realisation happens in the moment when you disappear. Your ego is no longer in the driving seat, when you realise deeply inside that the thought – say ‘I need exercise’ – is simply a thought. And not a thought that comes out of the reality of that moment, but a thought that comes out of the conditioned mind, probably originating many years before.
We’re constantly caught up with these conditioned ideas. So, what to do? One thing you can do is to become self-aware. That means to look inside and to be aware about what’s happening.
So the invitation is to look, to be self-aware, to shine some conscious light onto your ideas. If you keep focused on the inner world you will come to a point when you can catch the arising of this thought without getting attached to it – ‘Ah, there is that idea about exercise and happiness again.’ In order to catch that moment we need to be very willing and to become very quiet. It’s difficult because we’re so attached to certain structures that arise. They seem to be completely normal, in fact we call them ‘me’.
If you meditate regularly that creates a quiet mind. My suggestion is that you find a meditation that you like doing and then do it regularly, every day. Sometimes people have very strong experiences in their first meditation, but for most people with busy minds it requires patience. The benefits usually come slowly, but if you meditate for long enough you will certainly fall into moments of great silence where the thoughts actually just stop or where thoughts appear but you are not bothered by them, not identified with them. In order to have fear or stress or jealousy you have to have thoughts. You only feel jealous when there is a thought, so falling into this deep silence is a relief and encourages you to continue the meditation. Having a quiet mind is not an awakening or Self-realisation, but this quiet mind, without a lot of busy thoughts, creates a clean place or clear field for a moment of clear seeing.
Identification with the ‘I’, the movie, is seen clearly so that it can fall away, giving you a taste of your True Nature. And this taste gives you something truly beautiful: tremendous peace, tremendous love. Love in the sense of oneness with all. So by meditating regularly over some longer time, certainly some years, you will often fall into a deep silence, deep peace. Once you become an experienced meditator, then you will actually often come into this peace. And of course when that starts happening it then becomes very attractive to meditate.
When we sit quietly, John David encourages us to simply accept everything that’s there. If some strong thought, emotion of body sensation is present we can use that as a possibility to accept. When we come into an attitude of acceptance we are encouraged to let ourselves fall deeper inside. This is not a doing, more a letting go and returning into what has always been present.
Vipassana Island Weekend
John David regularly offers a meditation weekend which is all about silence. We come together, alone, and go on a journey inwards…
Vipassana Island is a great opportunity to understand how your mind and body are operating and to meet yourself in a deep way. Spend a whole weekend with yourself, sitting in silence in the supportive energy of a meditating group and the presence of John David. He has been guiding people into their own essence and love for 25 years.
Your Vipassana island consists of a chair, meditation cushion, back jack, matress and blanket. A loving helper team will bring food and take care of all needs.
A whole weekend for yourself. On Friday we start with dinner in silence and Satsang with John David. Afterwards 48 hours of Meditation beginn – on your Vipassana Island – in the supportive energy field of other meditators and the presence of John David.
On Sunday afternoon we come together for the opportunity to share, or to simply speak silence.
What people shared about their experience:
Upcoming Vipassana Island Weekend:
6. - 8. November at Open Sky Villa Denia, Spain
Phone: +49 2173 4099204
Mobile: +49 178 2890814
“Osho had an insight, when the western people were coming to him. He saw that we have very busy minds. The sort of classic meditation where you simply sit and look have been developed probably thousands of years ago when life was pretty simple. His insight was that we cant just easily sit quiet. So he invented two basic meditations that we call active meditations. One he called dynamic and one he called Kundalini.” John David
“If you are doing the Kundalini meditation, allow the shaking – don’t do it! Stand silently, feel it coming, and when your body starts a little trembling, help it, but don’t do it! Enjoy it, feel blissful about it, allow it, receive it, welcome it, but don’t will it.If you force, it will become an exercise, a bodily physical exercise.
Then the shaking will be there, but just on the surface. It will not penetrate you. You will remain solid, stonelike, rocklike within. You will remain the manipulator, the doer. The body is not the question, you are the question. When I say shake, I mean your solidity, your rocklike being should shake to the very foundations, so it becomes liquid, fluid, melts, flows. Then nobody is doing it, it is simply happening.” Osho
“Through guided enquiry a space arises where the person is less identified with thoughts and emotions. A movement towards the essence occurs.”