Awareness Watching Awareness

"How to Practice Self-Inquiry"

A very concise description of the Awareness Watching Awareness practice. (The page was expanded in January 2004)

Precise instructions in the most direct means of Self-Abidance, Self-Awareness, Self-inquiry, Self-Realization, Liberation.

The Awareness Watching Awareness Approach is the Most Direct Method

In the book The Path of Sri Ramana Part One, Sri Sadhu Om describes an approach to Self-inquiry that is more like Self-attention, or awareness watching awareness, or awareness aware of awareness, and less like asking a question 'Who am I'.

A question might arise: Was this awareness watching awareness approach actually taught by Sri Ramana Maharshi?

According to both Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om the answer is yes.

In the book "Garland of Guru's (Sri Ramana Maharshi's) Sayings" Sri Muruganar uses the word "awareness" throughout the entire book and describes this awareness watching awareness approach to Self-inquiry in detail, such as in the following passages:

418. The only true and full awareness is awareness of awareness. Till awareness is awareness of itself, it knows no peace at all.
432. Is it not because you are yourself awareness that you now perceive this universe? If you observe awareness steadily, this awareness itself as Guru (Teacher) will reveal the Truth."
921. None can confront and overcome the mind. Ignore it, then, as something false, unreal. Know the Self as the real ground and stand firm-rooted in it. Then the mind's movements will gradually subside.

If one were to distinguish between Self-inquiry and Self-abidance, then it might be more accurate to call the awareness watching awareness approach Self-Abidance.

If the instructions given by Sri Ramana Maharshi to Be the Self or to abide as the Self have not been clear for you as to "how?" this instruction of "awareness watching awareness while ignoring thought," provides easy clear instructions as to how.

Just your present awareness watching itself.

There are other ways that this can be described: "Know the knower," "watch the watcher," etc.

However, the clearest easiest instruction to follow is:

Your awareness watching your awareness while ignoring all else. (ignoring thought, the body, the world, etc.)

Automatically the "your" will drop off and it will be obvious that awareness watching awareness is really awareness abiding in or being awareness.

The reason to start with the instruction: "your present awareness watching your present awareness," is so that it is clear that one is not referring to some far off awareness called the Self.

It is just: your awareness that is now looking through your eyes turned around to watch itself.

Awareness watching awareness, consciousness watching consciousness.

If you notice you are thinking, just go back to awareness watching awareness.

Take your attention away from the thinking and back towards awareness watching awareness.

Your attention should be turned around 180 degrees, away from and ignoring the world, people, places, things, the body and thought, and towards awareness watching awareness.

It is awareness watching awareness only, excluding all else.

How long should you practice? Practice for at least an hour or two per day, everyday.

Set aside as many hours per day as you can, just for awareness watching awareness practice, with no other activities going on during your practice time.

Shut your eyes during practice, because that helps with ignoring the world.

Body posture is not important on the Direct Path.

You can do the practice sitting or lying down, if you are able to lie down without falling asleep.

Everything you need to know to practice the awareness watching awareness method is written above. The following are some additional quotes regarding the practice:

From the Garland of Guru's sayings by Sri Muruganar:

52. If one with mind turned towards Awareness and concentrating on Awareness, seeks the Self, the world made up of ether and other elements is real, as all things are Awareness, the one sole substance of true Being.
435. True natural awareness which goes not after alien objects is the Heart. Since actionless awareness shines as real Being, its joy consists in concentration on itself.
638. If instead of looking outward at objects, you observe that looking, all things now shine as I, the seer. Perception of objects is mere illusion.
694. Even in this worldly life one's labors bear no fruit without abundant faith. Hence till one merges in the bliss Supreme and boundless, one's strong zeal in spiritual practice should never slacken.
742. In the Self, he stands firm fixed who dwells and truly meditates on himself as pure awareness.
755. If without wasting time one starts and keeps up steady self-inquiry, one's life becomes at once ennobled, and there wells up within one's heart a sea of bliss supreme.
756. Barring fruitful self-inquiry there is, for real mind control, no other spiritual practice whatsoever. The mind may seem to be controlled by other methods, but after a while it will spring up again.
1038. Awareness is not a quality of the Self. The Self is without qualities. Awareness is not an action of the Self. The Self does nothing. The Self, our Being, IS Awareness.
1066. True wealth is but the gracious silence of steady, unswerving Self-awareness. This bright, rare treasure can be gained only by those who earnestly strive for the extinction of all thoughts.
1103. It is folly to waste one's life running in all directions searching different goals. Learn to practice firm abidance at the feet of the Self supreme, the eternal and auspicious silence, which alone can still the ego's restlessness.
1157. Holding in their hands the mirror, the scripture which declares "The Self alone is to be known," many alas, study the text and commentaries; but only a few seek the Self and gain true life.
1192. The ego image moves, reflected in the mind's waves. How to stop this movement, how to regain the state of stillness? Don't observe these movements, seek the Self instead. It is wisdom to gain and abide in silence.

From 'Sri Ramana Experience' by Sri Muruganar:

212. Those who have sunk within their own inner selves to dwell as pure knowledge, so that their infatuation with worthless desires is abolished, will through holy silence, establish the fulfillment of the real within their own selves. This practice of meditation upon consciousness itself, is the true way.

Take care,

with Love


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Michael Langford