Instructions for Ramana’s method of Self-enquiry usually suggest that people ask themselves “Who am I?” But some books recommend a different question, “Whence am I?”, which means in modern American English, “Where do I come from?”
I would like to suggest a third possibility. Ask yourself, “What is it that says ‘my experience’?”
What I mean is this:
No matter what you experience, you never doubt for an instant that it is your experience.
Why are you certain of that? What gives you that conviction?
What makes you feel, “It happens to me“?
This is true of every experience. Even nirvikalpa, even the unconsciousness of general anesthesia. Afterward you tell your friends, “I was in nirvikalpa yesterday” or “I was unconscious.”
What makes you take for granted that these things happened to you? On what basis do you do so?
Perhaps you’ll answer, “Because those events are in my memory.” To which I reply, “How do you know it’s your memory?”
What does mine actually mean?
Food for thought:
Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is within you who makes everything his own and says, “My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body.” Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate… If you carefully investigate these matters you will find him in yourself.
This was said or written by an Arab gnostic named Monoimus in the second or third century. Quoted in Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, pp. xix‒xx.
Photo copyright Julia Cumes