Self-realization Begins with One Simple Question

Sullins Stuart - October 1, 2022

The spiritual journey is the path to self-realization, it is recognizing and leaving behind that which is false in favor of that which is true, and then living your life in truth.

For those who desire to begin the spiritual journey, all that is required is to ask one simple question, “Who am I?” 

This question alone, when given your utmost attention, will provide all the insight you need to begin the spiritual journey for it is a very powerful question. 

This question is not to be answered extrinsically, meaning the answer is not your job title or the many roles you play in life. The answer lies intrinsically, meaning you must seek that which you are at the core of your being, behind the veil of the ego, for this is who you really are.

Sri Ramana Maharshi, when asked by a student if a guru was needed to awaken, said the practice of self-inquiry alone is all that is needed. Maharshi stated, “The guru cannot give you anything new, which you don’t already have. Removal of the notion that we have not realized the Self is all that is required. We are always the Self only we don’t realize it.”

In other words, your true self—your soul—is always present, but is constantly being overshadowed by the ego. The problem lies in believing that the ego is who we really are. Seeking the source of the ego through self-inquiry is all that is needed to begin to become self-realized. 

In exploring the simple, yet profound question, “Who am I?” you will begin to realize that your ego is nothing more than a conglomeration of thoughts encompassing your feelings, attitudes, judgments, desires, opinions, and more, which when viewed externally, aid in comprising the individual that is you in physical form.

If the ego is nothing more than a collection of thoughts, opinions, desires, etc., the next question to ask is, “Is the ego real?”

The ego is nothing more than a thought and thoughts are no more real than a dream we have when sleeping. Therefore, you cannot be the ego for how can you be something that is not real? So, absent the ego, who and what are you?

You are the eternal consciousness, the infinite awareness, that observes the ego.  

When you have this realization, you will fully understand what you truly are. When the false is removed, there lies what is and always has been—your true eternal self, an all-encompassing, infinite consciousness that is the source of all that exists.

At your core, you are the supreme consciousness. This is the real you—the eternal awareness behind everything that exists in the universe. With this understanding, you now must be true to your self and live this truth every moment of every day. This is the spiritual journey.

On a dark, cloudy day, does the sun not still shine brightly in the sky? Yes, it’s just hidden behind the clouds. Do you question the sun’s existence when you cannot see it? No, of course not. The same is true regarding your soul. Your soul is and has always been present, but the thoughts produced by your ego act as clouds that obscure your soul and prevent it from being observed by you and others.

The spiritual journey requires that we remove the clouds that hide our true self. And to do this, all we need to do is inquire into the nature of who we really are. The easiest way to do so is to ask, “Who am I?” The more you seek the answer to this question, the more the clouds will part to reveal your true self because inquiring into the nature of the ego causes it to disappear, for it is not real. 

Thus, the spiritual journey is not a journey of attaining anything, for you lack nothing. It is a journey of uncovering that which already exists, your true self, your soul. It is the process of removing the false, revealing the true, and living in truth every day.

Sri Ramana Maharshi stated, “All that is necessary is to lose the ego. Be as you are. See who you are and remain as the Self, free from birth, going, coming, and returning.”


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