What's behind the sense of "I am"? Who's living, and who's facing
death? Who or what am I, essentially? Will some part of me continue on after
death? Is there an unchanging, eternal part of me? Am I a part of some
unchanging, eternal essence?
Occasional individuals throughout history have told of finding the answer to
those questions, and their testimonies often have a surprising consistency.
As my friend and teacher Richard Rose wrote: "Beyond the mind is a
golden find...." For individuals seeking to find the answer
for themselves, those testimonies
provide helpful clues for pursuing the search
to a successful conclusion.
For some searchers, working by themselves is the preferred method. Others
intuit that finding a few fellow seekers to work with may expedite their
progress. Still more fortunate may be those who find a living person who has
made the journey and can provide assistance from the perspective of that
realization. The Self-Discovery site is designed to offer all three modes of
The Philosophical Self-Inquiry Groups are aimed at
implementing maximum systems of self-discovery an approach which can be
duplicated anywhere by finding a few people to work with. See FirstKnowThyself.org for examples.
Transcendence of thought is not transcendence of self. Shifting the focus of attention away from thought and onto breath or body is a useful prelude to a meditation of self-inquiry, but as an entire meditative technique it is an exercise in self-forgetfulness. It may lead to a wonderful experience but the mind is simply resting on the I-thought and that I-self is having a very pleasant experience, while remaining safely hidden behind the cloak of mental quietude and physical ease. The notion of "coming into the body" is a form of engaging in what Pulyan describes as Ego1 <=> Ego2.* The experience generated from this meditative technique is not the absolute realization that Rose, Nisargadatta, Maharshi, and others speak about. There is always a desire and a need for experiences to be extended in duration and intensity in order to satisfy the ego's need for affirmation, progress, and the nagging, deep sense of lacking a final answer to the question of ultimate self-definition.
*Alfred Pulyan wrote about the Ego dichotomizing itself in order to set up a dynamic of protecting and reinforcing a "boss" ego with the need created by having a subservient ego hard at supposed spiritual work of creating experiences and thoughts that affirmed ego-self. ~ Bob Cergol, 2014 Labor Day TAT Foundation gathering