We continuously refer to ourselves throughout the day as I. If it were the real I there would be no unhappiness, because sorrow can never arise out of Truth. But the I we refer to is false and is the root cause of sorrow. It is tainted and it taints our words, acts and vision. The way we speak depends on our preferences, our likes and dislikes. Watch how we speak from morning to evening. How much of what we speak is correct and truthful and how much of it is full of envy, hatred and favouritism? How few speak honestly, fairly and with purity? All this is due to the false I of which we are so enamoured. This false I also does not allow us to perform noble deeds.
God says that He is everywhere that He is in all of us and is the primary cause for our existence. But we ignore this fact and do not make any effort to reach Him. God says that in order to reach Him, people should carry out their duty remembering Him and dedicating every act to Him. In course of time people will reach God. If we have as much interest in performing duty without desire (as we do when we work expecting some result) then karma itself will gradually fade away.
The false I we speak of is identified with the senses and the body. It does not make us realise that the body and Atma are distinct, instead it tells us that the body is the Atma and that there is nothing apart from the body. This false I creates maya and acts on it.
Suppose a deadly disease strikes you you have to undergo the prescribed treatment, you cannot be cured by merely applying some ointment or coconut oil! Birth and death together constitute a deadly disease. Merely saying that I am doing sadhana is not enough to cure that disease. You have to perform noble acts, associate yourself with righteous souls and earn Gods grace only then will the disease vanish.
Sri Sankaracharya established four Mutts and laid down the qualifications for the heads of the Mutts. He said it is not enough for the heads of Mutts to be scholars full of book knowledge. He prescribed that each of them should have concentration and self-realisation and should also be able to explain to others, in simple terms, the grandeur of that experience.
There is only one state where there is no place for sorrow but until that state is realised, unhappiness will continue to haunt you. You may say that at this moment there is no trace of unhappiness in you, it may be true temporarily, but it only means that the appearance of your sorrow is postponed. Sorrow will haunt you from birth to birth; you will not be able to get rid of it until you reach the state of bliss.
The false I or the ego identifies itself with the mind, the body and various preferences. You are so preoccupied with the false I that you ignore enquiry into it. Sri Bhagavan exhorts us to be quiet and undisturbed and enquire into the I-thought, to find out Who am I? He tells us that it is only after the I-thought arises, that the body and various preferences also arise. If you separate all these from the original I-thought then the I becomes pure and merges into its source.
The false I encourages you to know about the world, the elements and even about what happens after death - but it does not allow you to know about itself. We do not attempt to know the source of the I but are anxious to know about various things created by it. Except Brahman, which is the source of the I-thought, everything else is but a mental projection. You have to get rid of the basic I-thought by whatever route you travel. For this, the path of enquiry is superior to the paths of japa and dhyana.
If you cannot reach your source through enquiry you may meditate on either Rama or Krishna or any other deity. Did not Krishna say that he is in everyones heart? We forget this essential Truth and carry a load of unnecessary memories. Unless we stop carrying this burden we can never attain jnana (knowledge). If you can forget the past completely you can gain liberation. Your sadhana be it japa or dhyana is inadequate so long as you do not move towards the Heart.
Most of us do not like to go within towards the Heart some may also find it difficult. That is the reason why our Yogis and Rishis gave different paths. But you must bear in mind that by whatever path you travel you have to get rid of the I-thought which gives you body consciousness. You may want to see God but find out who is that you. That is what Bhagavan said. Until an answer is got to that fundamental question sadhana has to go on and on.
Just consider this when you are in deep sleep there is no body and no world but you are there. Ponder over this - that you associate the body and the world with the I even when the body and the world are not there! This identification invites problems, limitations and the cycle of birth and death. If you discard your identification with name and form knowledge of the Self will reveal itself to you of its own accord. At present you are identifying yourself with the non-self, the moment you get rid of this identification all that remains is the Self which is universal. When you experience it you will find it is sheer bliss.
God is within you, outside you and in everything. You must catch hold of that all-pervasive one. It is not at all difficult, you can do it throughout your daily acts. If we always act according to the dictates of the all-pervasive one our mind gets purified. That leads to Jnana. Jnana leads us to Paramatma. He will grant us that nature which enables us to reach Him if we have constant remembrance of Paramatma and do acts that please Him. At present we indulge in acts, which give pleasure to our senses but if we perform acts with the same eagerness to please Him, we will reach Him.