The direct path to self-realisation is self inquiry.
Self-realisation is unlike any other subject, in that there is nothing to teach. Any teaching of self-realisation is merely a collection of pointers toward that truth which is 'hidden' in plain sight - the impersonal and unlimited Self.
Self inquiry is the existential essence of the question, “What am I?”
The answer is saught by contemplation of the relationship between the fundament of self identity and the fundament of reality – through a focus upon the immediate subjective experience. In plain English, one looks at the nature of that which looks, and contrasts that with the nature of self, as it is understood by body and mind. The contrast between expectation and actuality, gives the lie to our existing (mis)understanding of self. The Self that looks has no ressemblance to our typical conceptions of self. So opens the door to a radical revision - the emergence of self-realisation.
Contemplation is such as to become intimate with the nature of self and reality.
The hypothesis with which you are presented is that somehow you do not know your Self clearly. Thus, you are seeking your Self, are you not?
In all these contemplations and inquiry, always direct your attention toward the immediate subjective experience – like you are studying a strange new species, or a new form of life. Always work with the primary authority – subjective experience itself.
What do you actually know with certainty, beyond hearsay and supposition, about Self?
What do you actually know with certainty, beyond hearsay and supposition, about Reality?
What is the size of the Self? Where are the boundaries of the Self?
Is it not logical that the Self must always have been present? Is there ever a time when the Self will not be present?
What is the relationship between time and Self?
What is the nature of mind? What is the relationship between mind and Self? What are the limitations of mind? How does mind behave?
What is the relationship between concepts? Can a concept stand independently of other concepts?
What is the relationship between limitation and Self, and limitation and Reality?
What is the nature of suffering? Is there a judgement in suffering? Is there a judgement in being?
What is desire?
What is authority?
In the context of eternity and relativity, what is the nature of good and bad, better or worse?
Can there be freedom from conditioning and belief? How is the Self free?
What is the relationship between form and subjective experience – or consciousness?
What is objectivity?
Is there a distance between the observer and the observed?
What is the nature of illusion?
Can you handle paradox?
Is there a presumed limitation on what is saught? What is the basis for such limitation?
What is the nature of the Self, of Reality and of the person?
Does consciousness require effort? Is the essence of consciousness ever unclear? What is the relationship between self and consciousness?
Where is consciousness located? Where is the body located? Where is the World located? What are the body and the World made of?
Is consciousness aware of itself, as a quale, independent of other qualia?
The human body is as much a party as the mind, to the mythology/pathology that is to be uncovered.
What does the Self feel like? Is the body within the Self, or is the Self within the body?
What is the pain in pain?
What is the suffering in suffering?
Working with Difficulty
The greatest opportunity for self discovery will often occur during the most challenging personal circumstances.
Be particularly observant at these times. Look as the eyes look, hear as the ears hear. That is, adopt the most alert but equally relaxed observational posture, is if waiting or listening patiently for something wonderful to happen (though you do not know what).
If this seems too difficult, you may find it helpful to begin, by resting your attention within the subtle sensations of the body, or upon the breath.
Writing simple statements about the truth can help keep inquiry on track.
The mind has a tendancy to be quite logically inconsistent. By repeatedly attempting to write that which is most certain about the Self and Reality, you will notice any inconsistency. Writing in this way will also enable you to be methodical and meticulous, and to journal your inquiry.
The conceptual mind is a key component of the pathology that is to be uncovered. Creative modes of inquiry can be a prudent compliment to more structured or analytically guided contemplation.
Can you paint, draw or sketch the relationship between the Self, Reality and the person?
Can you paint, draw or sketch the subjective experience?
What is the nature of presence when you drum?
Can you chant the nature of the Self? Can you chant the nature of Reality? Can you chant the nature of the person?
What is the nature of presence when you sing or dance from the heart, or with wild abandon?
Self inquiry is a process that will generally require many iterations. Revision is highly probable.
Self-realisation corresponds to a progressive transformation of the psyche, as manifest in body and mind. The direction of transformation is ever toward dissolution of identification with the personal identity. Self-realisation is the release of the implied belief that the personal identity pertains to a discrete sentience or reality.
Awakening from the burden of belief, there appears the revelation that the person exists in name only. Self-realisation is a liberation from beliefs which service neither pragmatism nor morality, nor some fictitious sentient being.
Absent belief, that which is 'realised' is necessarily prior to mind and body.
Teachers and Teachings
A teacher is that which helps you to go beyond that which you took for granted.
A teaching may provide guidance to focus the search, so one is not unnecessarily distracted by superficial conceptual irrelevancies.
In this way, the most eloquent teacher is silence.
Self-realisation is paradoxical. The functioning of the conceptual mind and the appearance of the personal identity, are irreconcilable with the truth in which they appear.
The pattern of personality that remains may be quite astonished to discover that self-realisation itself is an illusion - the self that was to become 'realised' is not real, nor does the pattern of the person have any hard boundary whereupon a state of 'realisation' could be determined. The very notion of self-realisation is merely another empty appearance within the play of reality.
Nevertheless, stability of self-realisation appears.