How to realize our true self was the first question that Siddhartha, the Buddha, asked when he went from his home in Kapilvastu to his guru in Gaya, Bihar. His guru said, first learn the components of truth. Buddha learned Samkhya from him for a few years. He learned Vedanta, asana, pranayama, meditation and steadiness of the body, purity of thought, etc. and finally he left, just as you leave one class and go to another class. By that time he had prepared his body and his mind.
Now, here comes an important point. Not everybody can realize the Self, just as not every glass tumbler can hold hot water. This mind should be prepared first, because the mind is the experiencer. It is through the mind that you experience the body, the sensations, the emotions. It is through the mind that the sensations experience divinity. It is through the mind that you experience everything. First that mind has to be prepared. Preparation of the mind takes place through a life of self-abnegation. Self–abnegation means tapasya, austerity or penance. Self–abnegation means to refuse the mind everything it wants. When the mind wants something, say no, just as you tell a child, “No, it’s not good for you.” Don’t give yourself to the mind. Then your mind becomes strong, and it can handle spiritual experiences. People are very weak. If you cannot handle small emotions, how will you handle the divine experience?