Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How to Practice Self Enquiry by Rupert Spira

Many devotees who visit Arunachala wish to learn more about Self Enquiry and how to practice it. Probably one of the most popular works available at the Ramana Ashram bookstore explaining the method of Self Enquiry is by Sri Sadhu Om. 

Nowadays there are many videos on the internet by modern day teachers and gurus talking about “techniques” of Self Enquiry. 

Probably one of the most lucid and helpful contemporary teachers of advaitism and Self Enquiry is Rupert Spira. Below is a short narrative of his life. 

Rupert lives in Oxford, U.K., where he works as a a ceramic potter whilst also holding satsang meetings and spiritual retreats worldwide.

Rupert Spira

Rupert Spira is a spiritual writer and teacher of Advaita (non duality). His first teacher was Dr. Francis Roles, and under his guidance he learnt mantra meditation and was introduced to advaitism. Concurrently he studied the works of P.D. Ouspensky and learnt about the Movements of Gurdjieff. He also attended meetings of Dr. Krishnamurti which were highly influential in his spiritual development. Throughout his spiritual endeavours he studied the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. A meeting with Robert Adams (shortly before Adams’ death) was to lead him to his next teacher Francis Lucille. Over the next 12 years Rupert Spira immersed himself in spirituality under the guidance of Francis Lucille. Spira was later to say: 

 “I do not know what it is about the words, actions or presence of the teacher or teaching that seem to awaken this recognition of our essential nautre as it truly is and its subsequent realisation in our lives but I am eternally grateful to Francis for our friendship.” 

Rupert Spira at Satsang

There is an excellent question and answer narrative on Rupert Spira at this link. One of the questions posed to Rupert Spira is: 

Question: What do you think about Ramana’s practice of Self-enquiry? 

Answer: The natural state is simply to be, without resisting what is by inverting upon an inward self or trying to replace what is by pursuing objects in the world. However, if we think and feel that we are a separate entity, resisting and searching are unavoidable. In other words, we will be searching for the Happiness we believe is missing, rather than simply being. As such, having deeply tasted the futility of the search for Peace or Happiness in the objects of the body, mind and world, the very best we can do as this apparent entity is to explore the entity we consider ourselves to be, the one who is in search. This enquiry resolves itself in the abidance of our own Being. Thus, Self-enquiry is the highest activity that a mind that is still in search can undertake. However, Self-enquiry doesn’t end with the discovery that we are impersonal, ever-present Awareness. It continues as an impersonal activity that facilitates the realignment of the mind, body and world with the experiential understanding of ourselves as impersonal Awareness. 

Question: Would you say that a time frame is required for the teaching to mature (as in traditional Advaita and the teacher-guru relationship) or would you say some kind of understanding could arise at any time (as in Neo Advaita and the satsang formula)? 

Answer: Both! Enlightenment is always instantaneous. In fact, it is timeless, although it may or may not be preceded by a period of investigation. 

After the non-objective recognition of our own Being, a process takes place in time that re-orchestrates, as it were, the mind, body and world with this new experiential understanding. 

If there has been a long period of investigating and exploring these matters prior to the recognition of Being, the body and mind may already be well aligned with this experiential understanding so that when this recognition occurs not much adaptation is necessary. 

However, if this recognition takes place spontaneously with little or no preparation, the mind and the body may be utterly disorientated by this recognition and may, as a result, require longer to become realigned with it. 

However, there are no rules or formulas. Anything is possible. 

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Below is a video of Rupert Spira answering the question. “How to practice Self Enquiry?” during one his spiritual retreats.

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