Understand this: No one ever gets up one day and says, I am going to start "seeking" from tomorrow. Seeking happens.
And understand this too: once seeking begins, it takes its own course.
Though every seeker is led up his own individual path, it has been observed that seeking, by and large, follows a similar pattern for a similar category of seekers. For instance, there is a broadly discernible pattern for seekers who are of contemplative nature (the jnana marg). Though one cannot generalize, it has been observed that for people who are contemplative, the seeking broadly goes through the following stages:
First Step. There is the sense that some other force (other than oneself) has the final word on what happens. To begin with, the seeker starts out by thinking, “I am in charge most of the time but sometimes the other 'force' dictates the course of events - whether I like it or not.”
Second Step. The seeker sees how each action happens: the mechanism of thought-vocalisation-action. A thought arises which instantly gets vocalised and an action happens. Once this process is distinctly seen in operation, the seeker intellectually accepts that everything is just happening. He accepts, “I am not doing anything. What's more, I do not have the volition to do anything.”
Third Step. The seeker now realises that he does not even have the volition NOT to do anything.
Fourth Step. The seeker is now intellectually settled in his conviction that he is not the doer of his actions. And then suddenly it dawns on him that if he is not doing anything, nor is the other! Now, that’s interesting. It occurs to the seeker that “If he (the other) is not doing anything and if actions are merely happening through him then how can he blamed for any action that happens through him which harms me?”
Fifth Step. If I am not the doer of any action why should I be blamed for any action that happens through me? I am not doing it! Clever. But the seeker realises that, “If I am not doing any action then, when the reward or punishment comes, as it is wont to, I have also to accept that I am not the one receiving it too!” He cannot accept the intellectual understanding 50% per cent!
Sixth Step. Now it suddenly occurs to the seeker that, “If I did not start the seeking, how can I stop the seeking?” He realises that the seeking, which began spontaneously by itself, will run its own course – despite whatever he may or may not do. And, the tragic joke is that he cannot not do anything. The seeking directs him to do whatever needs to be done. Slowly, active seeking subsides - though passive seeking continues.
Seventh Step. The seeker comes to understand that he didn't create the ego. So how can he kill it? He learns to let the ego be. He discovers that any effort he makes to "suppress" or "destroy" the ego makes it stronger. Letting it be renders it fangless.
Eighth Step. The seeker is by now intellectually settled in the acceptance of the What-Is. More and more he becomes aware that everything is just happening. A point may come one day when, in the midst of a situation, the seeker may see the entire play happening - all the characters diligently playing their assigned roles and everything, absolutely everything, poised in equisite harmony. Such flashes of insight may, in some cases, become more frequent.
Ninth Step onwards. The seeker realises that, almost without his realizing it, the intellectual understanding has, over time, seeped deeper and transformed itself into Understanding. More and more he watches the game (lila) happening. By this time, he has also understood clearly that there is nothing he can do to direct the seeking process or to hasten it. He is simply happy the way he is. As the Understanding gets deeper he doesn’t even care if Enlightenment happens or not.