In my debut book release (The Philosophy of a Mad Man) I described the experience of self-enquiry, a yoga practice propounded by the late Indian guru Sri Ramana Maharshi.
The practice, which I undertook for several years, involves asking oneself the question ’Who am I?’ and investigating the mental tendencies associated with the ‘I’ thought.
The idea is that by focusing on the source of the ‘I’ thought we can come to realise that our ego is illusory, and instead uncover the real ‘I’ which is Brahman. Unification with Brahman and the destruction of the ego is the ultimate goal of the practice.
I only got so far with the practice the first time around. I had one experience of my bodily form dissolving into bliss, which is an indication I was on the right track, but my mind was not in a good way at the time and I abandoned the practice prematurely.
As I’m currently in psychiatric hospital I have plenty of time on my hands, so I’ve decided to revisit the practice. It’s going okay, though I haven’t yet been able to repeat the bliss experience. Letting go of one’s ego is no easy feat.
I do believe God is in control of everything that happens, even the deeper stages of meditation and self-realisation, so my success or otherwise in this endeavour will depend on His will. I’m optimistic though, and I like the idea of obliterating my ego which causes me no end of grief.
In the realised state, which I hope to attain, you can still function as a regular human being, only without the selfishness associated with the ego.
If any of you are interested in reading more about the practice, or even joining me on this mission (I’d love that), I recommend the book ‘Be As You Are’ by Maharshi.
I too admire Ramana Maharshi greatly. I have limited knowledge of Hinduism, but in addition to Brahman there is the individual self, atman. The interior of atman, is Brahman because there is only Brahman. For Hindus, the desire is to escape the endless cycle of rebirth and find absorption (Union) in Brahman. By attaining knowledge of atman (the True self), you become one with Brahman. Most of the practices toward this absorption entail meditation. This is also true in Sufism with which I am more familiar.
Along with meditation there is zhikr (remembrance). This is a practice of invoking the Most Beautiful Names of Allah, repeatedly. This is done with the intent that there is only One Voice, One Being. It is to remember the original covenant with one’s Lord prior to one’s emergence into this realm. For me, it is the spiritual express elevator; meditation being more like the spiritual escalator. The more people present at the zhikr and truly being of one voice, the more powerful it becomes, an amazing synergy. I believe this is so because being descendants of Adam every human is equipped with a hidden treasure, knowledge of these Names. As it is said in the Qur’an, Allah taught Adam the Names, all of them. Adam was the first Prophet of Islam.
– Love, Rahim Gee
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