There is a rule of recent popularity that says you can develop most any skill – say, master a musical instrument or become a professional athlete - by devoting 10,000 hours of focused, solitary practice to your chosen pursuit. This translates into 5 years of 40-hour weeks honing skills.
But these abilities,
though impressive, entertaining and possibly lucrative, are bound to fade with
time, as your muscles atrophy, your joints wear down and your mental acuity
fades. The ravages that time wreaks on all things physical is an inevitable
fact of life. Then you are left with dim memories of prior successes at best,
at worst you spend the so-called golden years hankering after the “glory days”
of the past.
Self-enquiry, on the other hand, offers benefits that last
eternity. Transcending the temporal is the best investment of your time and can
be done in a fraction of the hours spent teaching your poodle to dance ballet
or learning to juggle while running a marathon. Why? Because what you seek is
eternal, and It is identical with You.
One particular expert on the Self, as it were, tells us:
When I met my Guru, he told me: "You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense 'I am', find your real Self." I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence. And what a difference it made, and how soon!
My teacher told me to hold on to the sense 'I am' tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment. I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realized within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am -- unbound.
I simply followed (my teacher's) instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared -- myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence.
In just 3 years of sticking fast to existence, N. Maharaj had realized the Self. It took Aurobindo three days. For Ramana Maharshi it was instantaneous.
Make Self-enquiry your chosen pursuit. It is the road that leads to the greatest destination, which is YOU.