Self-investigation and Christ

I would like to bring the core message and teachings of Christ to the awareness of today’s spiritual seeker so that we’d recognize the precious heritage that has always been present in our culture and everyday life. I claim that we fail to appreciate the simple, profound meaning of Christ’s words and its similarity to Advaita Vedanta, the doctrine of non-duality, which is a very popular spiritual trend in the West today. This is due to an incomplete and partially distorted interpretation of Christ’s teachings, which makes us look for answers to the mind-boggling questions further away, e.g. from the East.

I believe that even today’s common people are ready to receive the central message of Christ’s teaching; the union and merging of the individual ‘I’ into the one and only Reality. For this we need a method and a key that opens and clarifies the message. The key was given to us by Sri Ramana Maharshi with the practice of self-investigation. When Advaita claims; “Tat Twam Asi”, That thou art”, just accepting or understanding the phrase leads us nowhere. Therefore, the next question should be, if I am “That”, then “Who am I?”

When we focus our attention on our self, the ‘I’, the mind’s natural tendency to go outwards to objects gradually weakens and, correspondingly, our interest to turn inwards increases. The exercise of self-investigation may seem dry if we only think about it mentally. We must nourish it with the fresh waters of love in order to go deeper into the study.

Love is the force that gives us the necessary motivation to continue on the path of self-investigation. Jesus said, “Love (the Lord) your God (Aramaic ‘allaha’) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The Aramaic word ‘allaha’ means the origin and power of the universe, which is in the air we breathe, the pulsating of our hearts and as consciousness of our own existence.

Loving God, our self, in this way, is the same as practicing self-investigation. When we turn our attention and interest more and more inward to know our self, the separate ‘I’ loses its grip and God (True self) opens like a flower, which everyone experiences as an innate sense of ‘I am’.

In Christ’s instruction, “Love your God with all your heart…” the word ‘your God’ is essential in my opinion. No one loves an unknown, distant or separate God as an object, at most we fear it. Instead, we love something close to us. And what is closest to us? It is our own self, ‘I’.

By solving the riddle of ‘I’, everything else will also be solved. Christ expressed it thus; “I am the way, the truth and the life. So “I” is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus’ mother language was Aramaic and in Aramaic ‘I am’ would be ‘ina’na’ (I-I), without the verb ‘am’. This is how we can understand that Christ meant the unity of the individual ‘I’ with its source. Ramana Maharshi said the same thing in Tamil, ‘nan-nan’, I-I or ‘I am I’.

I have noticed that Christ’s teachings are still relevant. When we put on Advaita’s “eyeglasses”, we’ll see that, there is only one teaching and one teacher from time to eternity.

– Jussi Penttinen