All spiritual traditions promote self inquiry. At its deepest core, the Vedic spiritual path is one long imperative for self-inquiry and self-realization. When we take the time and effort to apply our inner wisdom to ourselves, we open up not only new ways of thinking, abut new ways of being and relating in the world.
That's not to say it's easy; self-inquiry can be daunting. The process requires us to uncover the shadow — the dark and uncomfortable elements that we have worked hard to avoid, or distract ourselves from having to face. It's not that the darker qualities of our experience are truly hidden from us at any time, but we have a tendency to hide from them, or shy away from digging to deeply. This is why the process of self-inquiry can be a scary one — it requires that we not only recognize but delve into the darkness.
Despite this, there is absolutely great beauty in this ancient process of self-inquiry. The Vedas point out that saatva — the principle of light, love, self-healing, and self rejuvenation — is already an inherent part of your mind. And through the process of self-inquiry, even if we have to face the shadow, there is also a parallel process of uncovering this light, love, and healing. Once saatva is intrinsic, with our faces turned to the light within, the journey becomes joy-filled and, frankly, surprisingly easy.
It is when we uncover this greater wholeness within that we can then truly embrace all the broken, lost, banished, and stressed out parts of ourselves. In the light of saatva, what we uncover, or what we felt apologetic about, really becomes a part of a playful learning journey for us.
"Never the fear that you'll have to face your shadow hold you back from a true journey," says Acharya Shunya, "especially if you have a teacher, a tradition, and systematic guidance to support you every step of the way." It is through this journey that we learn not only how to lean on the most fulfilled parts of ourselves, but also how to fall back in love with oneself. And that's really what self-inquiry is all about.