Skip to main content

“But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out”

1 Timothy 6: 6-7

 You came into your body with no-thing: without your name, your mind, your ego and without any material thing. It is assured you will leave your body with no-thing. What is the nature of this “I” which existed before all these things were attached to it, “This Life within all living things…” (Bhagavad Gita) ? What is the nature of this Consciousness, this awareness, that existed as “I” before entering your body? Who is this “I” that you are…..?

Who am I?

Self Enquiry is an ancient practice embraced by Hinduism in the Bhavagad Gita and there are references in The Bible. A revival of interest was seen in the 20th century with the work of Sri Ramana Maharshi and H L Poonja (Papaji). Since then Self Enquiry has become very popular with an increasing number of exponents who, sadly, enmesh this simple but radical practice in ever-more esoteric and flowery verbiage which, in feeding the mind, blocks access to the message leaving many people perplexed and bewildered.

My purpose in this short paper is to address this and provide a simple, verbiage-free introduction to Self Enquiry and the journey you make in your search for Truth, the Truth that is for you to find as you look within yourself.

Whilst in Vermont a few years ago I was given a fridge magnet on which was written these words: “Barn’s burnt down. Now I can see the moon.” From your first day in your body you are conditioned, educated and socialised. As your life progresses walls are built around you, an ever-thickening layer of role-play, expectation, duty and obligation seems set to smother you, masks are created to hide behind and crutches to lean on. This imprisons you in a place of false identity which you come to believe totally and without question defines who you are.

 The first part of your journey becomes a “meditation game” in which you focus your attention on  those things that you are not:

I am not That – My beliefs, the possessions I have, the job I do, the relationship I am in, the religion I follow, the status I seek, my education, my desires and  fears, the emotions I feel, the expectations placed upon me and the body I live in.

Mind and ego drive you to be what you are not, convince you that you are these things and create dependencies which seem difficult, often impossible, to break.

Gradually in this process the walls begin to crumble, the chains loosen and the layers of conditioning and learning fall away. A sense of lightness and liberation begin to arise alongside one of fear and apprehension: if you continue with this process of chopping away just what will remain?

This takes you to the next stage of your journey, to the Practice, one drawn from the Self Enquiry teachings and which I have summarised to give easy access. It is a Practice that can be done anywhere, in any situation and with any thought, felt emotion or feeling. No special ritual or equipment is required. There is no time scale since you will take however long you need – days, months, years or many life times! Practiced daily it becomes a way of being used instinctively when the need arises. This is the Practice:

Go to a place where you will not be disturbed. Be quiet for a moment and with eyes closed focus on your breathing. Look within; take your time; no need to hurry…..

Become the witness to your thoughts, feelings, fears and doubts as they arise. Go to the source and ask: who is anxious, doubtful, fearful, who thinks that……? I am, me….Then ask the question – “Who am I?”

Remain with the question resisting the urge to answer through mind. Simply remain with the question quietly, effortlessly. As the mind quietens an awareness blossoms and answers arise from within you. The question itself “Who am I?” becomes the stick poking the fire that consumes untruth, false identification, fear, doubt and all the accumulated baggage of mind and memory that has been your story to this point

Ultimately the question itself is thrown onto the fire no longer required as True Self, that which I Am, is realised.

“To know who you are you need to disappear!” Papaji once said to a devotee. The barn needs to burn down before you can see the moon! The barn you have built over the years you have spent in your body is packed full of garbage, of stuff once needed but no longer useful. That day will come when this is realised and you will confine it all to the fire feeling a sense of liberation and freedom the like of which you have never experienced before.

It must be remembered however that Self Enquiry is not an intellectual exercise. The Practice can be learned by the mind but can only be understood through experience and application. As life is lived and experiences thrown in your path you will be given many opportunities to follow the Practice, to look within yourself as you ask the question: “Who am I?”

The answer rests within. Truth is for you to find as you look inwards quietly, effortlessly. Trusting that this is so is the key that opens the door that is itself an illusion.

Self Enquiry is self sufficiency. No qualifications are required, no special uniform, no travelling to far-away places, there is no dogma to believe or ritual to follow. The beneficial side-effects are endless and the effect is permanent. Its power to connect you to your True Self – that which I Am – is constant and always available to you.


You are worthy and you are ready. Now is the time!  




Having offered Satsang and Retreats in Self Enquiry for some years now I have come to understand that potential participants need to be ready and open, and probably but not always experienced  in meditation practice, to benefit from attendance.

Self Enquiry is a simple but radical Practice. No stone is left unturned.

As you are invited to reflect on the question “Who Am I?” a personal journey begins which will present challenges, often profound, as you are invited to drop  the masks and kick away the crutches upon which you have depended throughout your life.

But, as the fog lifts and the clouds clear away you will come to see that Self Realisation is the essential factor experiencing a sense of liberation and freedom the like of which you have not known before…..

Belief is transitory. Truth is constant. It is for you to find as you look within. Self Enquiry has untold potential in raising awareness as questions which arise are addressed and answered together in Truth (Satsang).

“Steadfastly the will must toil thereto till efforts end in ease and thought has passed from thinking”  (Bhagavad Gita)
Nan Yar : Who Am I?