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After Awakening, What Next?

   by Peter Holleran

   "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”    - E.B. White

   "If the human entity has no other purpose to fulfill on this earth than to return to the sphere of its origin, then it had no business to leave that sphere. There must be something to be gained by its earthly journey, if the universe has any sense in it at all." - Paul Brunton


   I warn everyone that there is much in this article of a technical nature, but I plan to inject a little hope and simplicity here and there to uplift the reader. Please don’t get discouraged or strain the mind too much, as we have the testimony of the enlightened ones that it is really very simple at heart. One might read this at first with intensity of concentration, but then let it all rest and wait for insight to arise after percolating under the surface for a while. Also please keep in mind that this is an early writing and likely stands in need of re-writing. Nevertheless, the quotes included herein have stood the test of time.

   Before proceeding, I would also like to state that my goal in this piece, as in most of my articles, is to juxtapose different arguments and points of view, not only to inform or inspire, but to so arrange things in order that the discriminative reader may eliminate all that is false from his mind, so that whatever remaining, however implausible, must be the truth - or as near to truth as can be expressed in words. There is alot of 'garbage' in there, and it takes alot of work to 'package it' and then throw it away! So having said that, let us proceed.

   To begin, there seem to be two camps on this issue (only natural in so far as we are speaking from a dualistic mind). One camp argues for ‘awakening’ being ‘It’, end of story (or ‘one’s story’), finis. The other argues for a never-ending evolutionary process of transformation and unfoldment of the awakened individual according to a divine plan, whim, or inherent creative impulse. Of course, there are those who have it both ways, since we are, after all, in the mysterious realm of paradox. In my previous writings I have tried to find a uniting factor between the two. This essay will attempt to discuss the teachings of Paul Brunton (PB) and Sri Aurobindo on the topics of evolution, creation, awakening, Soul, and the Absolute, with references to other sages, such as Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta, and contemporary anadi, who have spoken on these subjects. I apologize for the length of this article. As it developed it just grew and grew. I hope the reader will find it worthwhile.

   Both PB and Aurobindo had a very positive take especially on the relationship between realization and evolution. It is worthy of note that PB in fact recognized that Aurobindo presented a valid path to realization (in spite of the fact that Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy might be considered to be more akin to tantra than to PB’s doctrine on mentalism). Moreover, according to Kapali Sastry, who followed both Ramana Maharshi and Aurobindo, Ramana, too, recognized Aurobindo as a realized soul. (1) Franklin Merrell-Wolff, an acknowledged non-dual realizer, himself presented a glowing eulogy to Aurobindo (2), to the extent of calling him an Avatar, and also felt that Aurobindo did a profound job of refuting Shankara in The Life Divine (the relevant chapters being Reality and Illusion). In addition, there is a long series of letters between PB and K. D. Sethna, a "realized" disciple of Aurobindo, who died just a few weeks ago at the age of 106 [Note: this article was written in 2011], and was with Aurobindo from near the beginning of his Ashram in the early 1920s, in which Sethna kept insisting there were major differences between the two, and finally in the last paragraph of the last letter, admitted that it was mostly semantic. He didn't like referring to the Supreme Consciousness as "Mind", as PB did, but allowing for a change of terminology, a Consciousness beyond mind, said that if that was permitted, then he was in total agreement with PB about the essentials, and PB agreed. So the comparisons between, and contributions of, PB, Aurobindo, and others are well worth examining.

   [For those unfamiliar with the work of PB, a precise explanation of PB's special terminology is given here].

   For discussion of the views of Aurobindo I will be leaning heavily on the work of Don Salmon and Jan Maslow, in Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness.

   First, both teachers spoke of three levels in reality, three eternal Principles or verities. For PB there was Mind, World-Mind, and Overself (Soul). He said in a private conversation that these could also be equated with the One, the Intellectual Principle (Nous), and Soul of Plotinus. In meditation they could become known as a ‘deepening’ of the experience of the Void-Mind. In waking life they would imply a deepening realization of non-duality. Many ancient philosopher-sages also spoke of three degrees of penetration into the Absolute. (3) Similarly, Aurobindo spoke of one Supreme Knower (Purushottoma), a Univeral Spirit, and an individual Soul (or ‘psychic entity’), all of which were impersonal and beyond time and space, although the Soul had a relationship with the world of time and space as well as residing beyond it.

   Plotinus wrote:

   "The gradation of the One, the One-Many [Nous or Intellectual Principle], and the One and Many [Soul] is eternally fixed, and is an expression of reality." (reference misplaced)

   Similarly, Sri Aurobindo tells us:

   "There is an essentiality of things [the transcendant, infinite Spirit], a commonality of things [the universal Spirit], an individuality of things [the individual Spirit]; the commonality and individuality are true and eternal powers of the essentiality; that transcends them both, but the three together and not one by itself are the eternal terms of existence." (4)

   Both PB and Aurobindo also spoke of a ‘something’ that evolves through the kingdoms of nature (all residing and unfolding as a potentiality within the One Mind).

   PB called it an ‘emanant of the Overself’, associated in human beings with the ego. The maturing of the ego is dependent on the working of the ‘rational aspect of the soul’, or the higher mind. It is not really the Soul that evolves, but the ego. It develops to the point where it may sacrifice itself to be a fit vehicle for the fullest expression of the Soul. As PB writes:

   "How can a man fully express himself unless he fully develops himself? The spiritual evolution which requires him to abandon the ego runs parallel to the mental evolution which requires him to perfect it." (5)

   This is a very positive statement about the ego and the mind. They may be an enemy in the beginning of the spiritual quest, but a friend and guide in its maturity. Meanwhile, the emanant of the Soul, immersed in mind and ‘matter’, becomes ever more conscious in its long sojourn through the kingdoms of Nature.

   Aurobindo called this something that evolves from life to life the ‘psychic being’, starting out as a ‘spark’ of the ‘Supreme Knower’, growing ever more complex as the physical, vital, and mental dimensions developed, until self-consciousness arises within man. He prefers to reserve the use of the term ‘ego’ to represent only the ‘surface personality’, like PB a swirling complex of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions, which is to be guided by the growing psychic being within it. But as we will see, the psychic being is not really a reified entity. It is a very difficult concept to understand.

   The psychic being would at some point be developed enough that it would start guiding the surface personality (the animate of Plotinus) to align itself more and more with the Soul (Soul is eternal, beyond time and space, but, as mentioned, has more relationship with the Field (manifestation) than the Spirit. This is similar to Plotinus’ description of Soul and the Intellectual Principle). PB said that at some point the ego must take an active hand in guiding its development, even though it must ultimately surrender its sovereignty, to fully align itself with the Soul.

   Salmon and Maslow state:

   “From the inner perspective, it is ultimately the psychic being that is developing, even when the outer consciousness is entirely unaware of it....Ultimately, the degree of “awakeness” of the psychic being is the true measure of an individual’s level of development. A person whio is profoundly retarded, whose thinking mind will never progress beyond that of a one or two-year-old child, may be a highly evolved Soul. In fact, the psychic being may have chosen to be born in a body with a defective brain in order to more fully develop certain emotional capacities or still deeper soul qualities.” (6)

   [The latter seems possible, but not likely. As Anthony Damiani, a student of Brunton’s, once said, “if you spend your whole life trying to become a sage, you’re not going to be reborn as a bum.”]

   “Once the psychic being has awakened, it is possible to bring its influence directly to bear on the outer nature, allowing for the fuller manifestation of the swabhava - the true nature of the Soul.” (7)

   They then describe the three eternal verities as given by Aurobindo:

   “Behind the evolving psychic being is the individual Soul, what Sri Aurobindo calls the “psychic entity.” This is a reflection in the Field of the individual Spirit (Jivatman; Conscious-Being) which exists forever beyond time and space. This individual Spirit is a particular “focus” (though not separate as with egoic consciousness) of the Infinite, transcendant Knower (Purushottoma, Supreme Conscious-Being), a particular window or (nonmental) perspective through which He can experience his Infinitudes...” (8)

   It is important to recognize that by calling Soul and Spirit ‘individual’ is not meant to imply they are ‘entities’, they are eternal, infinite awareness, indistinguishable except by spiritual discernment, as are the three Primal Hypostases of Plotinus.

   It is somewhat difficult to decipher much of Aurobindo’s work, since he often has unique usages of traditional yogic terms. But it seems that a good guess would be that the psychic being, which he says travels from birth to birth, would be something like a karana sharira or causal body, or subtle-causal body combo, lit up by the spark of the Divine, the ray of the Overself or Consciousness. Or perhaps it is the feeling I AM and the subtle/causal body. In a sense, however, this psychic being is not an inherently real entity, but a changing, relatively real entity which we have to posit as an expedient this side of enlightenment. It only reincarnates as a matrix of possibilities from the vast karmic storehouse, lit up by the spark of the Soul which is becoming ever more self-conscious. Of course, prevailing tendencies are carried forward from life to life, the manifestation of the ego is not a totally random process.


   Fellow student from Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies, Alan Berkowitz, is in general agreement with what I have concluded. Through a personal correspondence he clarifies the matter in the following manner, for which I express my appreciation:

   "To start, let’s see if we can agree on fundamentals. One, that within the being, there is a subjective element (consciousness, awareness, unity, atman, overself, Witness I) and an objective element (bodies at different levels, kosha’s, sheaths, etc.). There is a subjective and objective element as we go up the levels until finally after the anandamaya kosa, they dissolve and there is non-dual consciousness, which of course can also be present at any level once it has been established through mentalistic experience. The term soul is used variously by different teachers for either the subjective element or the objective element. This can lead to confusion and disagreement."

   "There is a part of us that reincarnates in which the wisdom and experiences of one incarnation are stored and distilled. Many traditions call this the “subtle body" but some call it soul. It is “higher” with respect to the part of us that dies, but still “objective” to the subjective awareness. It is this higher objective subtle body element that I believe that Aurobindo is referring to as soul and it is not the Atman, Overself, Soul of Plotinus, Awareness, etc., but it does guide the evolution of the incarnating being because it contains the karma, the plan for the life, and the wisdom of past lives. In this sense it is also called the “causal body” because it contains the seeds of what we know here in a compact, beyond time-space form. Mozart’s receiving his music as a whole in a flash and then having to write out the parts for each instrument in time, is an example of contacting the causal body and receiving knowledge from it."

   My only point of difference here, as stated above, is that I would call this part of us that reincarnates the 'psychic being', and not soul or 'psychic entity', as described by Aurobindo.

   Sri Nisargadatta said, in answer to the question, "Is there a causal link between the successive body-knowers or body-mind?", replied:

   "Yes, there is something that may be called the memory body, or causal body, a record of all that was thought, wanted and done. It is like a cloud of images held together....Once you know that the body alone dies and not the continuity of memory and the sense of 'I am' reflected in it, you are afraid no longer....I do not say that the same person is reborn. It dies and dies for good. But its memories remain and their desires and fears. They supply the energy for a new person. The real [In his terms, what he sometimes calls 'awareness', or sometimes the Absolute state 'beyond consciousness'] takes no part in it, but makes it possible by giving it the light" [In his terms, beingness or 'consciousness']. (9)

   This, of course, is a paradoxical statement. By 'giving it the light' the Absolute certainly seems to be 'taking part in it', does it not? Colin Drake clarifies:

   "The mind/body is an instrument through which Awareness (Consciousness at rest) experiences, interacts with and enjoys its own manifestation (Consciousness in motion, Cosmic Energy). It is also itself an ephemeral manifestation of this same Cosmic Energy (Consciousness in Motion) and is saturated with Awareness at every level, from cells aware of and reacting to their environment, white blood corpuscles being aware of invading viruses, the mind being aware of thoughts/sensations etc., etc. In fact Awareness is the keystone, or substratum, of all life, without which it could not exist." (internet post)

   Note that Drake, like many non-dual teachers, implies that 'Consciousness at rest' is the same as the 'Absolute beyond consciousness' spoken of by Nisargadatta. Spiritual teacher Anadi, whom we shall here much from later, refutes this and says it is a widely mistaken view, and that consciousness is not the Ultimate.

   Nisargadatta, like Aurobindo (and Paramahansa Yogananda), referred to the Absolute as the 'Purushottoma':

   "Purushottoma is the Absolute, the Eternal. While the Absolute is without any external support, being totally self-supporting, it is itself the support for everything manifest." (10)

   He further said:

   "(The sense of a separate existence) is a reflection in a separate body of the one reality....It all boils down to the mental or psychological link between spirit and matter. We may call the link psyche (antahkarana). When the psyche is raw, undeveloped, quite primitive, it is subject to gross illusions. As it grows in breadth and sensitivity, it becomes a perfect link between pure matter and pure spirit and gives meaning to matter and expression to spirit...With the maturing of the sattva all desires and fears come to an end. The real being is reflected in the mind undistorted. Matter is redeemed, spirit - revealed.” (11)

   With his use here of the term "pure matter", it must not be overlooked that Nisargadatta considered all to be arising in and as consciousness, much like PB had. He said:

   "The world you perceive is made of consciousness; what you call matter is consciousness itself." (12)

   So said Aurobindo as well, as the following quote will attest:

   "In a certain sense Matter is unreal and non-existent; that is to say, our present knowledge, idea and experience of Matter is not its truth, but merely a phenomenon of particular relation between our senses and the all-existence in which we move. When Science discovers that Matter resolves itself into forms of Energy, it has hold of a universal and fundamental truth; and when philosophy discovers that Matter only exists as substantial appearance to the consciousness and that the one reality is Spirit or pure conscious Being, it has hold of a greater and completer, a still more fundamental truth.... It is the existence of material form in its own right apart from the self-illumined energy which assumes the form, that would be a contradiction of the truth of things, a phantasmagoria, a nightmare, an impossible falsehood." (13)

   At some point, man unites with, or perhaps more precisely, realizes his Soul. The true Soul is infinite, eternal, and non-dual. It must not be confused with any form of subtle entity. For PB this is the Overself, a 'point' in the World-Mind. Nisargadatta, too, referred to ‘points of consciousness’ in the Absolute.

   For Aurobindo, this is the psychic ‘entity’ or Soul. Like the psychic being, it is not really an ‘entity’ either; that is just, IMO, his imprecise terminology for something truly infinite and eternal.

   PB equates realization of the Overself, or union with the true Soul, or the Nous in the Soul, as the realization of non-duality. He also once said that he did not say that sahaj was the highest realization possible, but that it was the highest achievable by man.

   Aurobindo may have had something like this in mind when he said:

   “I had experience of Nirvana and Silence in Brahman long before I had any knowledge of the overhead spiritual planes.” (14)

   Aurobindo felt that after realizing the Soul, one could allow the Divine to further penetrate and transform the psychic being and the body-mind mechanism. I look at this sort of like “Thy will be done, thy Kingdom come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Thus, evolution continues after man attains the unity with the Soul.

   Salmon and Maslow summarize Aurobindo’s philosophy of evolution; non-dualists will no doubt consider this and much that follows as no more than a nice story. So be it; but everything works out in the end, please have faith and patience:

   “At the beginning of the evolutionary journey, what later evolves into the psychic being (the ‘individualized expression of the Soul’) is no more than the merest spark, hidden in the heart of matter. To the extent this psychic spark has the barest degree of wakefullness, it is unconsciously identified with the surface movements of the physical conscious-energy. This identification constitutes a rudimentary form of ego, albeit one completely lacking in self-awareness.”

   “The psychic spark is diffuse in matter, and over the course of billions of years, slowly becomes more organized, more complex. Along with this, the rudimentary ego develops, as physicist and Buddhist teacher Robin Cooper refers to it, a feeling of “centeredness.” However, it is not until the emergence of certain mammals and primates that something close to conscious individuality appears on the evolutionary scheme.

   "By the time humans appear, the rudimentary ego has flowered into partial wakefulness. The psychic spark has developed into a psychic being and now has, for the first time, a vehicle through which it can, potentially, express its full nature. But the human consciousness remains divided, characterized by much obscurity, inertia, and unconsciousness. The psychic being, though more fully awake than it was at the beginning of the evolutionary journey, remains hidden deep within. As a consequence, it is the “ego” that human beings mistakenly take to be their “self.”

   “Although the ego is a false identity, it serves several essential purposes. For one, in functioning as the screen that divides the surface personality from its Origin, it sustains the challenge that helps make the game of evolution so compelling. It also acts as a coordinating point around which the play of the surface physical, vital, and mental consciousness is organized, allowing for the development of the surface individuality. And, finally, the suffering engendered by the sense of ego intensifies the aspiration of the psychic being to awaken. The ego continues to carry out its various functions until the psychic being - the true individual - emerges fully, at which time the ego will no longer be needed.”

   It must be remembered that the psychic being is still not the Soul, which Aurobindo refers to as the ‘psychic entity’. The psychic entity or Soul is really not an entity either, as previously mentioned, as it is beyond time and space, yet still also in relationship to the creation, much like the concept of Soul as a ‘double-knower’ for Plotinus.

   The flowering of the psychic being initiates a stage where the psychic being itself begins to guide the surface personality. It allows intuitions and intimations from the Soul to percolate through the personality, more and more aligning it with the Soul’s purpose and being.

   Sri Nisargadatta speaks similarly, of the role of the witness:

   "Unless the witnessing consciousness begins to lay on the person and it becomes the object of observation rather than the subject, realization is not feasible. It is the witness that makes realization desirable and attainable....Before the spark is lit there is no witness to perceive the difference. The person may be conscious, but is not aware of being conscious. It is completely identified with what it thinks and feels and experiences. The darkness that is in it is of its own creation. When the darkness is questioned, it dissolves. The desire to question is planted by the Guru...It is not the person that is doing sadhana. The person is in unrest and resistance until the very end. It is the witness that works on the person, on the totality of its illusions, past, present and future." (16)    For Aurobindo, the Soul - the ‘Knower within the Field’ - “is a spark of the Divine Spirit which supports the individual nature. Over the course of evolution , it develops a “soul individuality” [the psychic being] which grows from life to life, using the evolving mind, vital and body as its instruments.”

   The psychic being is a difficult concept to grasp. I look at it as the maturing ego as described by PB, with all of its potential inner levels: physical, vital, and mental. According to Aurobindo, there is the ego, then the inner nature (physical, vital, and mental), then the psychic being. But PB condenses these into just ego and Soul. Which classification is most accurate I do not know.

   The use of the words, “a soul individuality which grows from life to life” gives the impression of a reification of the psychic being, whereas traditional teachings say that can not be the case. Even the causal ‘body’ undergoes changes between lifetimes; there is no reincarnation of the ego, or any permanent ‘being’. Otherwise there would be a continuity of consciousness from life to life, which is not the case. The Soul itself does not incarnate, or reincarnate. The ‘emanent’ of the Soul drops or ceases to enliven the body, associating with a new body/ ego each life, being the sutra atma or thread upon which are strung a series of lives, which are each made up of the predominating tendencies from the sanchit storehouse of karmas or samskaras; but there is no personal reincarnation in the commonly imagined sense. [For more on this topic, see Bedtime Stories: Are They Real? on this website]. Still, the ego or psychic being is evolving, growing more and more mature to be a fit vehicle for the full expression of the Soul, which may continue even after awakening.

   Sri Nisargadatta gives us a description of the relationship between the ego, I AM, and the Absolute:

   “When the ‘I am myself’ goes, the ‘I am all’ comes. When the ‘I am all’ goes, ‘I am’ comes. When even ‘I am’ goes, reality alone is and in it every ‘I am’ is preserved and glorified.” (17)

   This passage of Nisargadatta seems to confirm that the ‘psychic being’ of Aurobindo may continue on for the purpose of cosmic evolution.

   Aurobindo writes:

   “The true soul secret in us..burns in the temple of the innermost heart behind the thick screen of an ignorant mind, life, and body...the flame of the Godhead always alight within us. It is a flame born out of the Divine and, luminous inhabitant of the ignorance, grows in it till it is able to turn it towards the Knowledge. It is the concealed Witness and Control, the hidden Guide, the Daemon of Socrates, the inner light or inner voice of the mystic. It is that which endures and is imperishable in us from birth to birth, untouched by death, decay or corruption, an indestructible spark of the Divine.” (18)

   Salmon and Maslow add, regarding this ‘concealed witness’, that “because of its overwhelming perception of the inseparability of the Knower [Purushottoma, the Absolute] and the Field that accompanies the witnessing experience may lead the individual to confuse it with the pure, non-dual awareness of the Knower.” (19)

   PB, Nisargadatta, and others have warned of this also. It is easy to mistake the Witness for Pure Consciousness. Nisargadatta said:

   “[The Witness consciousness] is the reflection of the real in the mind (buddhi). The real is beyond. The witness is the door through which you pass beyond...You are always the Supreme which appears at a given point of time and space as the witness, a bridge between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person.” (20)


   "The words 'inner and outer' are only relative to the body. Awareness comes as if from a higher dimension." (21)

   For Aurobindo as well as PB evolution is not just for the purpose of awakening the Soul to its true nature, one of being in the Nous and the One (the ‘Father’), but also for expressing the Soul's unique and infinite qualities. This is also a very life-positive message. It is also found in Plotinus who, although he sometimes spoke of an ascent to the One [Remember, 'ascent' and 'descent', 'inner' and 'outer', are only meaningful in relation to the body], nevertheless famously rebuked the Gnostics, accusing them of:

   “despising the world and all the beauties in it” when in reality there was no distinction between matter and spirit, since spirit “penetrates and illumines” the world and makes it a “living and blessed being.” (22)


   "What, then, is spirit? The Spirit of here and now. And the God? The God of here and now." (23)

   After the realization of the psychic entity or Soul, for Aurobindo the next phase, then, is to allow the Divine to more and more interpenetrate the surface and inner consciousness. In other words, there remains a form of further spiritual transformation.


   What is nice about this teaching on evolution is that it is not in discord with the prevailing view of science. I won’t get too far into the controversies surrounding evolution as it is too vast a topic for this paper. Suffice it to say, however, there are three camps, more or less. First is the Darwinian camp, where there is a continuum of evolution from lower forms to higher ones. The problem with this is that there has never been one example of a species evolving into another. Species die out, but they don’t change. The second camp is that, by either a material or spiritual process, evolution occurs with the discrete appearance of different species over long periods of time. Thus, it is not really evolution in the strictist sense of the term. For instance, there is a long gap in the fossil records between the emergence of reptiles and birds. Third is the Theosophical view, which holds that there is a mental and astral evolution of plant and animal forms up to man, but they still condense out of the ethers onto the physical plane at discrete intervals. Other spiritual evolutionists say that the developing species reach a stage when the conscious-energy of the divine needs a new form to express itself more fully, and the organisms develop new faculties, limbs, organs, whatever. There are some materialistic evolutionists who believe this type of teleological process also.

   For Aurobindo, the important thing to remember is:

   “Yoga demands a constant inward remembrance of the one central liberating knowledge: In all is the one Self, the one Divine in all, all are the Divine and there is nothing else in the universe.” (24)

   Sri Nisargadatta adds:

   "You need both clarity and earnestness for self-knowledge. You need maturity of heart and mind, which comes through earnest application in daily life of whatever little you have understood. There is no such thing as compromise in Yoga." (25)

   All is contained in potential in the one Supreme Knower, the Purushottoma, the Absolute pure subjectivity. There is really just an enfoldment out of this potentiality. PB uses the same term ‘unfoldment’ in his writings.

   Salmon and Maslow ask us to question:

   “But is the whole point of evolution simply to wake up? when everyone has woken up, would the “game” of evolution be over? Or, is there a new, and quite different game possible?” (26)

   Aurobindo states that such a further transformation, what to speak of an initial awakening, is not something we can do under our own power (especially since after waking up there is the realization that there is ‘no-personal-self’!) He says:

   “A Divine power has to replace our limited energy so the instruments can be shaped into the divine image and filled with the force of a greater infinite energy; this will happen to the degree we can surrender our self to the guidance [and] then to the direct action of that power.” (27)

   For PB, after sahaj, or non-dual awakening, evolution is a spiral to ever higher spheres. For Aurobindo, it is in bringing the Divine influence more and more into the realm of matter, the creation of what he calls the "Gnostic Being". But first, PB gives us a global scope of the sacrifice made by a true sage. This is a long series of important quotes:

   "The sage has conquered separativeness in his mind and realized the ALL as himself. The logical consequence is tremendous. It follows that there is no liberation from the round of births and rebirths for the sage; he has to go through it like the others. Of course, he does this with full understanding whereas they are plunged in darkness. But if he identifies himself with the All, then he can't desert but must go on to the end, working for the liberation of others in turn. This is his crucifixion, that being able to save others he is unable to save himself. "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, `And he was numbered with the transgressors.' Why? Because compassion rules him, not the ego. Nobody is likely to want such a goal (until, indeed he is almost ready for it) so it is usually kept secret or symbolized. Again: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (28)

   “This goal must not be mistaken, however, for the orthodox Hindu or Buddhist goal of liberation from the cycle of rebirths. The philosophic aspirant seeks liberation only from mental and emotional bondage to the experiences of these rebirths. He does not hate earthly life nor desire to disappear utterly in the universal life. Unlike the ordinary Oriental ascetic or mystic he is content to come back to earth again and again, provided he can come back with wisdom, understanding and compassion, and participate effectively and selflessly in human affairs. For he knows that death and birth, earth and heaven, are but changes in idea, and that in reality there is one unchanging existence which is birthless and deathless and everlasting. The world is for ever changing, but the flow of changes is itself permanent. Therefore we can find the Eternal here in this world as well as in the supra-mundane realm.....”

   “Ultimately we may continue to exist no longer as finite beings, only as the Absolute itself. The person is absorbed into its impersonal source. This deprives immortality of all human meaning. The instinct of self preservation holds us all in so powerful a thrall that we demand its satisfaction even after we have renounced the transient mortal life. For then there is no impress on the universal life, nothing to show in the vast void of the Absolute that the individual has even existed at all. But we as egos shall not pass into nothingness when we finish this pilgrimage from outward existence to inward Essence. We shall pass inwardly into a state where we shall not be involved in time space change as humanly known, a state where they become meaningless terms. This state is as undeniable by a being in it as it is impenetrable by those who stand outside it. But it exists. It is not annihilation, it is the fullness of being.”

   “From this final standpoint there can exist no such process as the cyclic whirl of reincarnation. All births on earth are then seen to be appearances of one and the same thing. The thing is known to be the reality, and its appearances are known to be its shadows. But before this high level is reached man thinks in his ignorance that he has a wholly separate existence from all other men, that he is a finite individual who must be born again and again on earth until he attains the being of the Overself, and that the Overself and he are two things, separate and apart.”

   He then gives us a very positive perspective on the purpose of creation and evolution, similar to that of Aurobindo:

   “The true teaching about reincarnation is not that the divine soul enters into the captivity and ignorance of the flesh again and again but that something emanated from the soul, that is, a unit of life that eventually develops into the personal ego, does so. The Overself contains this reincarnating ego within itself but does not itself reincarnate. It is the parent; the ego is only its offsping. The long and tremendous evolution through which the unit of life passes from its priitive cellular existence to its matured human one is a genuine evolution of its consciousness. Whoever believes that the process first plunges a soul down from the heights into a body or forces Spirit to lose itself in Matter, and then leaves it no alternative but to climb all the way back to its lost summit again, believes wrongly. The Overself never descends or climbs, never loses its sublime consciousness. What really does this is something that emanates from it and that consequently holds its capacity and power in latency, something which is finited out of the Overself’s infinitude and becomes first, the simple unit of life and later, the complex human ego. It is not the Overself that suffers and struggles during this long unfoldment but its child, the ego. It is not the Overself that slowly expands its intelligence and consciousness, but the ego. It is not the Overself that gets deluded by ignorance and passion, by selfishness and extroversion, but the ego.”

   “The belief in the merger of the ego held by some Hindu sects or in its annihilation held by some Buddhist ones, is unphilosophical. The “I” differentiated itself out of the infinite ocean of Mind into a distinct individuality after a long development through the diverse kingdoms of Nature.
[‘Nature’ capitalized here as per Plotinus to indicate its intimate relationship with the Soul, IMO] Having thus arrived at consciousness of what it is, having travelled the spiral of growth from germ to man, the result of all this effort is certainly not gained only to be thrown away...”

   “The self-consciousness thus developed will not be dissolved, extinguished, or re-absorbed into the Whole again, leaving not a trace behind. Rather it will begin a new spiral of evolution towards higher altitudes of consciousness and diviner levels of being, in which it will co-operate as harmoniously with the universal existence as formerly it collided with it. It will not separate its own good from the general good. Here is part of the answer to this question: What are the ultimate reasons for human wanderings through the world-process? That life matters, that the universe possesses meaning, and that the evolutionary agonies are leading to something worthwhile - these are beliefs we are entitled to hold. If the cosmos is a wheel which turns and turns endlessly, it does not turn aimlessly. Evolution does not return us to the starting point as we were. The ascent is not a circle but a spiral.”

   “Evolution presupposes that its own possibility has always been latent within the evolving entities. Hence the highest form is hidden away in the lowest one. There is development from the blindly instinctive life of animals to the consciously thinking life of man. The blind instinctive struggles of the plant to sustain itself are displaced in the evolutionary process by the intelligent self-conscious efforts of the man. Nor does the ascent end in the Vedantic merger or the Buddhist annihilation. It could not, for it is a development of the individuality. Everywhere we find that evolution produces variety. There are myriad of individual entities, but each possesses some quality of uniqueness which distinguishes it from all others. Life may be one but its multitudinous expressions do differ, as though difference were inherent in such expression.”

   “Evolution as mentalistically defined by philosophy is not quite the same as evolution as materialistically defined by Darwin. With us it is simply the mode of striving, through rhythmic rise and fall, for an ever fuller expansive of the individual’s consciousness, However, the ego already possesses all such possibilities latently. Consequently the whole process, although apparently an ascending one, is really an unfolding one.”

   [For PB's expanded explanation, please see "Evolution's goal is not merger" from Vol. 16 of his Notebooks].


   Yet we must not fall into dualistic error of assuming everything is already pre-determined within the One Absolute. The Divine Being is not separate from the universe It controls. There is not a ‘Designer God’, as Salmon and Maslow point out, that has created a physical universe apart from Himself. Conscious-Being is not separate from Conscious-Energy. Thus, there is a degree of indeterminancy (one might say of freedom) that increases in the course of evolution as the Conscious-Being awakens within the Field of Conscious-Energy, revealing more of Its Infinite creativity. (31)

   Spiritual teacher anadi says much the same thing as PB does here:

   "The most important thing to see is that there is a part of you, namely I am, which never incarnates. There is a part of you which is beyond incarnation. You are multidimensional. You have a few different layers of yourself which exist simultaneously. That which incarnates is your psychological extension. It is your personality which evolves in time, incarnating into various forms. But paradoxically, the essence of you doesn't evolve, for it is already perfect. You are evolving, you are changing...but throughout this evolution what you discover is your timeless perfection. Through evolution, you recognise that which doesn't change, that which is beyond evolution. That is why all of this is real and unreal at the same time." (32)

   PB once wrote that the sage faces three choices after his enlightenment:

   "With the last lesson of this earth well learnt and the first principle of being well-assimilated, we finish the weary round of reincarnations. And then, according to the temperamental and ethical tendencies previously developed, we shall take one of three paths. First, we may elect to merge finally and forever in the universal mind and lose the burden of the little self in the larger peace. Second, we may leave this star for a higher one where the forms and grades of existence are finer and fairer. There are other inhabited globes, some lower and some higher than ours in the evolutionary scale. Any human being who has developed so highly that he has personally outgrown the usefulness of our Earth, has thereby earned the right to reincarnate on a globe bearing more advanced beings. But this is an uncommon event. [elsewhere PB wrote that Jesus was such a being who came to Earth from a more advanced planet] Third, we may, actuated by an all-embracing pity silently take on the terrible sacrifice of abandoning the rewards rightly won and remain here in constant reincarnation to help those who grope in the darkness of ignorance and bewilderment..Whereas it is strongly-felt desire which leads the ordinary man into a course of repeated earthly existences, it is strongly-felt compassion which leads the sage into the same course, too." (33)

   To these three choices we might add a fourth: the enlightened one can take up residence on a higher plane of existence and serve beings there.

   Jugal Krishnore Mukherjee similarly writes:

   “The Jivanmuktas and other liberated souls enjoy complete freedom and are in no way bound by any particular rule or procedure. They can, after the shedding of their physical body, travel to any particular supraphysical world of their choice, may come back to the terrestrial plane in another human embodiment, or may not do so but stay permanently in any desired supernal world such as Brahmaloka, Vishnuloka, Sivaloka, etc., or crossing the bounds of all cosmic manifestation may pass beyond time and space and merge in the Transcendent Absolute. To quote Sri Aurobindo:

   “The Jivanmukta can go wherever his aim was fixed
[This implies that he has to will it, as PB has also said, such as in the case of a further incarnation], into a state of Nirvana or one of the divine worlds and stay there or remain, wherever he may go, in contact with the earth-movement and return to it if his will is to help that movement.” (34)

   anadi speaks of two different types of awakening, two different types of evolution, and various dimensions of enlightened possibility. His teaching is deep and profound with unique terminology and is explored in depth in Dual Non-Dualism on this website:

   "There are two types of awakening. One is the self-realisation itself. And the second, even more fundamental is awakening to the search or to one's evolution; it is the awakening to self-discovery, the awakening to the soul's desire to return home. If one just wants to become enlightened, it is only from the ego and not from the Soul. When you seek for yourself, the word 'enlightenment' will matter no more. The reality of your search matters. This is a sign of the soul's maturity...Most souls apart from their inner evolution require the outer fulfilment for their completion too. Now, you can see how important it is to be in tune with your soul's evolution. Without this connection, you can hurt yourself, following an idea which does not reflect your soul's blueprint. Discover the purpose of your evolution; use your passion to go inside and do the inner work."

   "There are two parallel evolutions: evolution into liberation and evolution into the purification of me
[soul]. The first is going beyond the mind, transcending personality thereby reaching I Am. Here the problem of purifying the mind does not arise, as one is beyond the mind. However, in the second case when you acknowledge your mind as part of yourself, you may wish to align it with the principles of harmony and purity, for they reflect the original reality of the soul. These two types of growth represent two different ways of looking at the reality of me - her unconditional side and her relative side. However, it is not really possible to transform the mind, unless I Am is present. because if there is no centre of awareness, no being and the heart is closed, there is simply no space inside in which one could allow transformation to take place. The mind is neurotic by the very absence of I Am...Purification of the mind is not simply a result of your will but when the real me is present and you express a clear intention of having the mind purified - it will be purified! It is a function of evolution. Not that you do it, it is not that you make it happen - it is being done! Nevertheless, you do co-operate. You express a clear intention to your soul and to the divine to become purified within your personality. Next, you may bring some element of psychological understanding into the functioning of your mind. In order to experience a purified me, the subconscious mind needs to be cleansed."

   "How can the subconscious mind be changed? Only the force of grace can do it. You need help, the intervention of higher intelligence, which is God, in truth. Only the one who created you can heal you...On the path of disidentification, like Advaita for instance, the problem of purification does not arise, as me is negated. But when you acknowledge your personality as part of your multidimensional wholeness, there is room for the evolution of the psyche as well."

   "You are limited, but you have been given some amount of energy, intelligence and free will to expand within your limitations. However, your capacity to expand within your limitations is limited!..You have no way to get out of this limitation which is inherent in being human. For that reason, we speak about 'human enlightenment,' for it is reached within the limitations of human consciousness. It is true that the Buddha reaches the unlimited, but from the limited perspective of the human blueprint. What it tells us is that the recognition of the unlimited from the human perspective is limited. That's why, enlightenment has no end, for there is no end to deepening awakening...no end in expansion into the unlimited. Here, we can understand the profound meaning of dual-non-duality. One has already become one with the ultimate but still paradoxically, one expands into the mystery. Human consciousness reaches the unlimited within its limitations; it expands within these limitations in order to reach a deeper and more meaningful perception of the Unlimited."

   "It is important to understand the role of the blueprint, which is the divine plan for the soul's ultimate expansion. The soul is not complete when she becomes unlimited, but rather when she reaches the optimum of expansion within her particular limitations; this optimum is the blueprint. To grow within limitations is the creativity of the soul. The only sphere where the soul goes beyond limitations is when she becomes one with the ultimate reality. You do not become the unlimited but you merge with it from the place of your limited existence...In the past they thought that the Buddha became the unlimited; it was however a serious mistake which brought about a great deal of confusion
[the same development happened with Jesus as did the Buddha: a God-like myth was overlaid upon their original teachings]. We do realise God but in a human way. The meeting of our primal limitation, that is me, with the divine presence of the unlimited - is itself God-realisation."

   "You have to come as close as possible to your inner light. Do not allow yourself to follow your lower nature, but always be in touch with your heart and your I Am. In this way, certainly, your next incarnation will be positive. And you do not need to be reborn as a human; there are many possibilities. The reasons why one does not need to incarnate is not merely enlightenment. That which makes you let go of this dimension is your completion and fulfilment. When you feel done with this ridiculous drama, your soul will not wish to incarnate anymore. it is all on the soul's level; your soul decides, not your mind. So when you do not incarnate anymore, the evolution may continue but within universal consciousness. We cannot speak about this because it is beyond human understanding. There are mysteries which are far beyond the totality of human knowledge; no human being knows these mysteries, not even the Buddha knew...nobody can know. There are certain mysteries that the human being is unable to know because of the basic limitation of human consciousness. We cannot go beyond that."

   The student of PB will recognise some elements of his thought here. One may remember the quote, and I am paraphrasing from memory, "I do not say that sahaj is the highest realisation there is; I say it is the highest realisation for man." anadi is referring to something like that.

   "Even the enlightenment we speak about is just the human type of enlightenment. There are other types of enlightenment which no one in the human body can ever reach. So what the human reaches is human enlightenment which is the optimum of completion within human consciousness...When human evolution is complete, evolution still continues but within a higher structure. Your intelligence merges with the universal space of Intelligence...There is no-one there, there is no entity; but there is movement of intelligence, movement of understanding, movement of love."

   Further, on the nature of the 'human Enlightenment', he says:

   "You see, when the soul is one with the beloved, in her original form, she had no way of knowing it! There is no one to know it...the purpose of creation is not merely to negate one's separation and to dissolve into oneness. The purpose of evolution is to reach a point of being almost one! It is reaching the point where you recognise both your separation and your oneness. At this point of meeting you begin merging with God. This precise point, when you are neither separated, nor one is the ultimate experience, and the true most noble purpose of creation."

   "Please see that me, in her transcendance, doesn't merely become absent. It is not that only the ultimate remains present. The ultimate is present through me. Me is meeting her own absence, which means that me is in a profound way present. She abides in this dimension of experience where she encounters her own disappearance. That is the mystery of the meeting between the soul and the beloved. It is neither soul nor is it the beloved. What is it? It is the beloved meeting herself through me."

   That is certainly a lot to ponder over. In Transmission of Awakening, he makes the interesting point that it is not all of the creator, beloved, or universal I AM that forgets and remembers itself through this great leela, or play, but only certain expressions of itself he refers to as specific “angles of perception of the totality”, which are the souls. The divine meets itself and ‘experiences’ the joy of recognition of itself through the outward and inward journey of the souls, not itself in its entirety. If true, this is enlightening, clarifying and eliminates some confusion often found over this issue. It is not merely satisfying to the mind, but it puts a feeling in ones heart.

   Salmon and Maslow continue, describing Sri Aurobindo’s overall vision:

   “All is the One Consciousness-Being knowing and feeling itself in infinite ways, in infinite forms. The individual Soul is a particular focus of consciousness, the various planes of consciousness each a particular kind of interaction between Conscious-Being and Its Conscious-Force [or Conscious-Energy] , between Soul and Nature. When consciousness is absorbed in the play of forms, identifying with a particular part of the Field, the result is Ignorance. Over the course of evolution there is a progressive freeing of the embodied consciousness from its exclusive identification with a small part of the Field....Of course, it is only the consciousness associated with the play of involution and evolution that is completely absorbed. The infinite, immeasurable Consciousness of the [Purushottoma] is beyond all space and time and remains completely free and untouched by the entire play. It is only an infinitesimal portion of the infinite Conscious-Being that manifests as the various planes of consciousness.” (36)

   So PB’s description is quite a similar view on evolution as that of Aurobindo. In it there is no complete loss of individuality, only an expansion into the Infinite which upon awakening is realized to have been always already the case. Adyashanti also mentions that after awakening there are ever-deepening realizations into a silent Presence that never ends, that awakening from the idea of a separate self is just the beginning of spiritual life. PB also speaks of more to come:

   "The deeper one penetrates into the Void the more he is purified of the illusions of personality, time, matter, space, and causality. Between the second and third stages of insight's unfoldment there are really two further subsidiary stages which are wrapped in the greatest mystery and are rarely touched by the average mystic or yogi...These two stages are purificatory ones and utterly annihilate the last illusions and the last egoisms of the seeker. They are dissolved forever and cannot revive again. Nothing more useful can and may be said about it here. For this is the innermost holy of holies, the most sacred sanctuary accessible to man." (37)

   Liberation, then, from this perspective is not the traditional yogic or Advaitic one of merely getting out of the karmic wheel, or fleeing the manifest dimensions, but rather a transforming of the being so as to enable the sage to ‘work for the World-Idea’ - by merging the ‘psychic being’, or matured ego guided by the rational soul, with it - and living from the point of view of the Soul in infinite Spirit.

   Nisargadatta said the following which partially describes what it is like for the sage to work with the World-Idea:

   “Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do what one must, what is right, is real freedom.” (38)

   Hubert Benoit writes:

   "If I suppose myself to be liberated by Realisation I ought not to imagine my organism escaping all determinism, but as being conditioned at last by the total determinism of the Supreme Principle which is my own nature; I ought not to imagine my organism no longer obeying any cause, but as obeying at last the First Cause which is its own reality...The man liberated by satori can only perform one single action in a given circumstance. He can no longer do anything but the action that is totally adequate to that circumstance; and it is in the immediate, spontaneous elaboration of this unique action that the enjoyment of the perfect liberty of this man lies. The natural egotistical man, activated by partial determinism, elaborates in a mediate manner one of the innumerable inadequate reactions to the given circumstance; the man who has attained Realisation, activated by total determinism, elaborates with absolute rigour the unique action that is adequate." (39)

   Swami Rangathananda also writes"

   "Very often when a discipline is imposed on us, we resist. This is because of the lack of sattva in us, and in its absence, we become slavish in mind. To be tamasic means to be slavish. A disciplined man is a free man. We forget the great truth that discipline is a mark of freedom. Indiscipline means slavery. Punctuality and a sense of duty is the mark of a free person." (40)

   These are a lot of words, but the bottom line, for PB and Aurobindo, is that there is more to spirituality than a conscious awakening or reunion of the wandering prodigal soul-emanant with its source, the Soul. The Divine lila, in essence, continues forever, while yet remaining eternally outside of time - and timeless - both. This is consistent with many ontologies, whether Sufi, Taoist, or Hindu, and also keeps non-duality, no-causation, no-creation intact.


   Aurobindo, in a similar but perhaps not entirely identical manner as Plotinus with his ’description of the Soul as a ‘double-knower’, wrote:

   “Consciousness is...the fundamental thing in existence ---it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it...Consciousness in us has drawn a lid...between the lower planes of mind, life, body supported by the psychic [being] and the higher planes which contain the spiritual kingdoms where the Self is always free and limitless, and it can break or open the lid or covering and ascend there and become the Self free and wide and luminous or else bring down the influence, reflection, finally even the presence and power of the higher consciousness into the lower nature.” (41)

   For Ramana and Nisargadatta, it might be suggested, that all of this talk of soul and evolution is besides the point, as for them there is no creation or creator, only an instantaneous appearance, essentially to no one, from within the (impersonal) Self, apparently manifesting as a result of the movement of mind and desire, moment to moment. This, of course, is the famous ajata theory. Nisargadatta stated:

   "The creation is self-effulgent and spontaneous. There is no creator." (42)

   As we have suggested, however, the two views are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Aurobindo's universal realism or semi-tantric philosophy, or even PB's mentalism, while not incompatible with ajata, are other ways of looking at the matter.

   The following passage from Yoga of the Bhagavad-Gita by Krishna Prem, author of commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita and the Katha Upanishad, and highly regarded by Ramana Maharshi as an embodiment of both jnana and bhakti, expresses the contrast quite clearly of the experiential difference between Sankara ‘s Advaita and Abhinavagupta’s Saivism; I think it represents a possible partial critique of or challenge to certain aspects of many of the 'direct' paths, which tred lightly on the subject of divine Power. [Of course, they will deny that this will stand up to their logic; I just say it is possible, or another way of looking at things]. It also suggests the possibility of conceiving of a 'non-personal' form of doership:

   “It is only too easy to misunderstand [the] actionlessness [of the Light of Consciousness] which, together with a certain “neutrality” – one of Its most characteristic features – is one of the first characteristics to become clear to the disciple. In spite of this fact, and that it is a fact no one who has experience will deny, and notwithstanding the categorical statement in verse 29 (chapter 13, Gita) that all actions spring from [Nature], yet it remains true that the creation, preservation and destruction of the forms are rooted in the nature of the Light [of Consciousness; the Purusha].

   "Words fail us here: we must plunge deeper yet within the heart and see that in that mystic inactivity, within its very being, lurks Divine creative power. It gazes and the forms spring into being; gazing, It holds them fast; ceasing its gaze, they fall back in the matrix once again. Here lies the mystery of the Will both in the macrocosm and the microcosm. The Will, even the individual will, is not the creature of mere outward forms. A Divine freedom is its very essence: the Light has an inherent power to gaze or not to gaze, also to change the level of Its gazing. This cannot be described; it must be seen and known within the heart. Failure to understand this mysterious actionless activity has disastrous consequences, for it transforms the central Fount of joyful, radiant Light into a static Absolute, an eternal Futility, throned in the heart of being.”

   Something to think about anyway. I remember one night when Anthony Damiani practically put his hands around one student's neck and shouted, "there's more than Vedanta!"

   I have quoted the following passages regarding the Plotinian view frequently in other articles, but will present them here once again. Damiani says:

   "The sage unites with his soul and he's permanently soul. He can get a glimpse of the Intellectual Principle but he cannot become the Intellectual Principle. He must return and be soul. He will always be soul. You, I, and everyone else. So the higher glimpse is not your glimpse of your soul [which may be what many experiences of non-duality and satori are], but the soul's experience of the Intellectual Principle. When you achieve identity with the soul, you can get a glimpse of that Void. You can call it the Intellectual Principle or you can call it the Absolute Soul in the Intellectual Principle. It doesn't matter what you call it, because the One, the Intellectual Principle, and the Absolute Soul of Plotinus - those three Primal Hypostases together - can be considered as the Void Mind. But this higher glimpse is distinct from the unity with the soul, the identity with your soul. It is a different kind of experience. You could know many things when you have achieved identity with your soul, but when you have the glimpse of the Intellectual Principle, the only thing you could know is that it is. Nothing else. So, in other words, you could know that God is after you have achieved union with the soul. Before that all you could know are the contents of the soul, and the soul itself."

   "They don't have texts available on these things. When PB speaks about what a philosopher sage is, he points out that the philosopher sage is a person who has achieved permanent union with his soul. He doesn't say that the philosopher sage is one who has achieved permanent union with the Intellectual Principle or with the Absolute Soul, but one who has achieved permanent identity with his soul. This soul that he speaks about, this is what he refers to as made in the image of God - in other words, the image of the Intellectual Principle. And this is what the philosopher or the jnani is, he's the soul. He knows that his essence comes from the Intellectual Principle. He knows it, not intellectually, he knows it because his soul is a direct emanation from that, and the soul's self-cognition automatically includes the recognition of its principle - where it comes from."

   "So it's true that the glimpse into your soul is of the nature of the Void. It's true. But it's also true that the essence of your soul, even though it is void, and the essence of the Intellectual Principle, which is also void, are distinct.
[important point]. Now what is the distinction between these two? When the philosopher sage says to you, "God is," he's not saying that my soul, even though it is cosmic and infinite, is God. He's speaking about the Intellectual Principle, and that's the experience that comes to the philosopher sage. PB even says that if that's all they can communicate, it is enough. When the individual soul or individual mind has that experience of the Intellectual Principle, that is the announcement he makes, by referring that experience to God. He says that's God.” (44)

   The basic non-dual realization of the philospher-sage is that Consciousness is the substratum and very nature of both the ego-I and the world, and that there is no real separation between “I” and “other”; i.e., no separate self.

   Plotinus gives us his succinct definition of a sage:

   “What, then, is the achieved Sage? One whose Act is determined by the higher phase of the Soul.” (45)

   He then gives this description (lyrical and metaphorical as it may be) of existence of the Soul in the Intellectual Principle:

   “For There everything is transparent, nothing dark, nothing resistant; every being is lucid to every other, in breadth and depth; light runs through light. And each of them contains all within itself, and at the same time sees all in every other, so that everywhere there is all, all is all, and each all, and infinite the glory.” (46)

   Plotinus further writes, in what must be one of the finest products of the human mind to date:

   “Again, all that is fully achieved engenders: therefore the eternally achieved engenders eternally an eternal being. At the same time, the offspring is always minor; what then are we to think of the All-Perfect but that it can produce nothing less than the very greatest that is later than itself? This greatest, later than the divine unity, must be the Divine Mind [Intellectual Principle] , and it must be the second of existence, for it is that which sees The One on which alone it leans while the First has no need whatever of it. The offspring of the prior to Divine Mind can be no other than that Mind itself and thus is the loftiest being in the universe, all else following upon it - the Soul, for example, being an utterance and act of the Intellectual Principle as that is an utterance and act of the One. But in soul the utterance is obscured, for soul is an image and must look to its own original: that Principle, on the contrary, looks to the First without mediation - thus becoming what it is - and has that vision not as from a distance but as the immediate next with nothing intervening, close to the One as Soul to it.” (47)

   This makes it sound like a gnostic experience, whereas Anthony Damiani and PB interpret it non-dualistically, and Plotinus as previously noted decried the Gnostics. This sounds complicated, but as all is forever in the One, and never in reality separate from the One, no other interpretation of Plotinus but the non-dualistic one can we accept. Aurobindo said likewise, when he wrote that all ‘ never left the Father’.

   Sri Nisargadatta, in an enigmatic comment, perhaps similar to the writing on the Primals of Plotinus, tells us:

   "There can be no experience of the Absolute as it is beyond experience...That which makes experience possible is the Absolute. That which makes experience actual, is the Self." (48)

   [However, if such an experience is not possible, how does one know that the Absolute exists?! Elsewhere Nisargadatta says that only because of consciousness can one know there is an Absolute, seemingly leading us around in a circle]. Now let us consider the following sequential set of quotes from PB. In the first passage he describes what might be called an experience of the Soul:

   "The actual experience alone can settle this argument. This is what I found: The ego vanished; the everyday "I" which the world knew and which knew the world, was no longer there. But a new and diviner individuality appeared in its place, a consciousness which could say "I AM" and which I recognized to have been my real self all along. It was not lost, merged, or dissolved: it was fully and vividly conscious that it was a point in universal Mind and so not apart from that Mind itself. Only the lower self, the false self, was gone but that was a loss for which to be immeasurably grateful." (49)

   Stated differently, this is very much anadi's point: the Soul is not negated.

   Next PB describes what might be considered the realization of the ‘Nous in the Soul’, or the 'Soul in the Nous', a form of non-dual realization which need not exclude the world:

   "Only after he has worked his way through different degrees of comprehension of the world whose passing his own development requires, and even after he has penetrated the mystery beyond it, does he come to the unexpected insight and attitude which frees him from both. In other words he is neither in the Void, the One, or the Many yet nor is he not in them. Truth thus becomes a triple paradox!" (50)

   And, finally, in the following he tries to give us a picture of the Absolute:

   "The Real is forever and unalterably the same, whether it be the unmanifest Void or the manifested world. It has never been born and consequently can never die. It cannot divide itself into different "realities" with different space-time levels or multiply itself beyond its own primal oneness. It cannot evolve or diminish, improve or deteriorate. Whereas everything else exists in dependence upon Mind and exists for a limited time, however prolonged, and therefore has only a relative existence, Mind is the absolute, the unique, the ultimate reality because with all its innumerable manifestations in the universe it has never at any moment ceased to be itself. Only its appearances suffer change because they are in time and space, never itself, which is out of time and space. The divisions of time into past present and future are meaningless here; we may speak only of its "everness." The truth about it is timeless, as no scientific truth could ever be, in the sense that whatever fate the universe undergoes its own ultimate significance remains unchanged. If the Absolute appears to us as the first in the time-series, as the First Cause of the Universe, this is only true from our limited standpoint. It is in fact only our human idea. The human mind can take into itself the truth of transcendental being only by taking out of itself the screens of time space and person. For being eternally self-existence, reality is utterly timeless. Space divisions are equally unmeaning in its "Be-ness." The Absolute is both everywhere and nowhere. It cannot be considered in spatial terms. Even the word "infinite" is really such a term. If it is used here because no other is available, let it be clearly understood, then, that it is used merely as a suggestive metaphor. If the infinite did not include the finite then it would be less than infinite. It is erroneous to make them both mutually exclusive. The finite alone must exclude the infinite from its experience but not vice versa. In the same way the infinite Duration does not exclude finite time." (51)


   After awakening to the Soul and Spirit, for Aurobindo there is still more. Realization does not in itself immediately transform the being. On this the modern sages are in agreement. Sri Nisargadatta said:

   "When the mind has been put to rest and disturbs no longer the inner space (chidakash), the body acquires a new meaning and its transformation becomes both necessary and possible." (52)

   [For U.G. Krishnamurti such bodily transformation came about neither willfully nor through deliberate sadhana, but as a result of what he called "the calamity". For details on his enigmatic and radical departure from traditional mystical or spiritual experience please see The Two Krishnamurtis] on this website].

   Salmon and Maslow write:

   “Neither the psychic nor the spiritual awakening in themselves necessarily involve a fundamental change in the Field of the mental, vital, or physical nature. [Adyahanti would agree, that after awakening comes a process of embodiment, as well as deeper realizations within the silence of being] Rather, both pertain to an awakening to the Knower (Aurobindo’s term for the Absolute). With the psychic awakening, one realizes the Knower in relationship to the universe; wiith the spiritual awakening, one knows one’s true being to be rooted in the spaceless and timeless Infinite, the primordial awareness out of which the entire universe arises from moment to moment [that is, atemporally].”

   “According to Sri Aurobindo, once the psychic being has awakened and begun to transform the outer nature, a greater Divine Force begins to descend from levels of consciousness beyond the thinking mind, resulting in a still greater transformation of the mind, the vital, and the body. As the consciousness is transformed, it rises to progressively higher levels of what Sri Aurobindo calls the “spiritual mind.” With the ascent to each higher level, the power of the descending Force associated with that level increases, leading to a yet wider and comprehensive transformation of each part of our nature. This force “works at the same time for perfection as well as liberation.” (53)

   While such words are inspiring, before one gets too carried away with the ideal of ‘perfection’, Rumi warns us:

   "There is no worse sickness for the soul,
   O you who are proud, than this pretense of perfection.
   The heart and eyes must bleed a lot
   before self-complacency falls away.”

   And as Meister Eckhart said:

   "A man must become truly poor and as free from his own creaturely will as when he was born. And I tell you, by the eternal truth, that so long as you desire to fulfill the will of God and have hankering after eternity and God, for just so long you are not truly poor. He alone has true poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires nothing." (55)

   Aurobindo, however, was not alone in this kind of expression. Even a sage such as Sri Nisargadatta said:

   "The ultimate value of the body is that it serves to discover the cosmic body, which is the universe in its entirety. As you realize yourself in manifestation, you keep on discovering that you are ever more than what you have imagined...All that lives, works for protecting, perpetuating and expanding consciousness. This is the world's sole meaning and purpose. It is the very essence of Yoga - ever raising the level of consciousness, discovery of new dimensions, with their properties, qualities and powers. In that sense the entire universe becomes a school of Yoga (yogakshestra)...You need not know what you are. Enough to know what you are not. What you are you will never know, for every discovery reveals new dimensions to conquer. The unknown has no limits...Truth is in the discovery, not in the discovered. And to discovery there is no beginning and no end. Question the limits, go beyond, set yourself tasks apparently impossible - this is the way." (56)

   As Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi said, “Everything is perfect – but it could be more perfect.”

   And as Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) once remarked, “The greatest virtues are those which are most useful to other persons.”

   PB is in apparent agreement with Aristotle:

   "He may think that eradication of personal faults has little to do with finding the true self, but this is not correct. These very faults arise out of the false conception of the 'I'. Moreover the eradication is suggested not only to help him to overcome such false conceptions but also to help him become a better servant of humanity." (57)

   After awakening, one master said, then the ‘evil karma’ is dealt with'. So-called 'faults' continue to be cleansed and made obsolete. The World-Idea, of which the ego is a part, is projected through the Soul and is itself evolving or unfolding; the Idea of Man is a subset of that Idea:

   "The idea of man which exists in and is eternally known by the World-Mind is a master-idea...From the moment this specific unit of life separated from the cosmic Life, through all the different experiences whereby it developed, and through all the different kingdoms of Nature, its spiritual identity as Man was predetermined...A man's body may die and disintegrate, but the creative idea of him will still remain in the World-Mind as his Soul. It will not die. It's his real Self, his perfect Self. It is the true Idea of him which is forever calling to be realized. It is the unmanifest image of God in which man is made and which he has yet to bring into manifestation in his everyday consciousness." (58)

   Speaking further about the universe, he says:

   "Its divine origin and sustenance are revealed in the fact that all things and all beings in it strive for perfection even if they never attain it. For in seeking to return to their source, they are compelled to seek its perfection too." (59)

   For PB, the philosophic goal is not one of mere isolation, but non-dual realization as well disseminating the fruits of bodhichitta for the benefit of the whole. This is one reason why the spiritual process ‘continues’ after enlightenment:

   “The mystic may get his union with the higher self as the reward for his reverent devotion to it. But its light will shine down only into those parts of his being which were themselves active in the search for union. Although the union may be a permanent one, its consummation may still be only a partial one. If his intellect, for example, was inactive before the event, it will be unillumined after the event. This is why many mystics have attained their goal without a search for truth before it or a full knowledge of truth after it. The simple love for spiritual being brought them to it through their sheer intensity of ardour earning the divine Grace. He only gets the complete light, however, who is completely fitted for it with the whole of his being. If he is only partially fit, because only a part of his psyche has worked for the goal, then the utmost result will be a partial but permanent union with the soul, or else it will be marred by the inability to keep the union for longer than temporary periods.” (60)

   “Another difference between a Philosopher and a Mystic is the following: the Mystic may be illiterate, uneducated, simple-minded, but yet may attain the Overself. Thus he finds his Inner Peace. It is easier for him because he is less intellectual, hence has fewer thoughts to give up and to still. But Nature does not absolve him from finishing his further development. He has still to complete his horizontal growth as well as balance it. He has obtained depth of illumination but not breadth of experience where the undeveloped state of faculties which prevents his light from being perfect may be fully developed. This can happen either by returning to earth again or continuing in other spheres of existence; he does all this inside his peace instead of, as with ordinary man, outside it. When his growth is complete, he becomes a philosopher.” (61)

   The phrase here, "he does all this inside of his peace instead of, as with ordinary man, outside it," is similar to the distinction made in Sufism of the journey "in God" following completion of the journey "to God". PB uses almost identical language:

   "His quest for God has reached its terminus but his quest in God will now start its course. Henceforth his life, experience, and consciousness are wrapped in mystery." (62)

   That there is still work after awakening to one's true nature before liberation is completely accomplished or established has been stated by numerous sages. A.H. Almaas writes on the effect of Enlightenment on our ego-structures:

   "First, experience and recognition of true nature, regardless on what dimension of subtlety and completeness, do not automatically dissolve all ego structures. It is our observation that ego structures, and for that matter psychodynamic issues, are not affected directly by enlightenment experiences. This is due to the fact that these structures and issues have mostly unconscious underpinnings. Unconscious elements of the psyche are not impacted by conscious experience directly, except maybe in exposing them to consciousness in some occasions. These structures are impacted only by awareness of them and complete understanding of their context. The enlightenment experience may give the individual a greater detachment and presence that makes it easier for him or her to confront these structures and issues without becoming overwhelmed by them, and hence have a better opportunity to work through them. The greater presence that may result might make it easier for the individual to abide more in true nature, and this way have a greater detachment from the influence of the structures. But the structures will not self-destruct simply because the soul has seen the light.”

    "Furthermore, enlightenment and liberation, or the arriving home, is not only the realization of true nature. This realization is necessary for enlightenment; it is its experiential ground. Nevertheless, enlightenment also includes the absence of all structuring that may impede any of the basic dimensions of true nature, as those of basic knowledge and creative display of potential. Practically, this means the working through of all ego structures and issues. If there is a structure that one is not aware of, or has not worked through directly or indirectly, it is bound to obstruct or obscure true nature in one way or another, at one time or another. Enlightenment then has two sides: the abiding in true nature and the liberation from all rigid and fixed structures. In fact, the more one is liberated from ego structures and their patterning influence the more one is able to abide in true nature."

   This is consistent with what contemporaries Adyashanti, James Scwartz, as well as traditional teachers, such as Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, and various Zen masters have said: the vasanas much be eliminated and the awakening must become stabilized under all conditions.


   Garma C.C. Chang brings to our awareness the recognized distinction made in Zen and Ch’an Buddhism between the awakening to prajna-truth and Cheng-teng-cheuh (sabyaksambodhi), which is the final, perfect, complete enlightenment of Buddhahood:

   “A great deal of work is needed to cultivate this vast and bottomless Prajna-mind before it will blossom fully. It takes a long time, before perfection is reached, to remove the dualistic, selfish, and deeply rooted habitual thoughts arising from the passions. This is very clearly shown in many Zen stories, and in the following Zen proverb, for example: “The truth should be understood through sudden Enlightenment, but the fact (the complete realization) must be cultivated step by step.” (64)

   Sri Aurobindo seems to suggest something even further than traditional “enlightenment” or “liberation” when he speaks of the Supramental evolution; whether his view holds up against either the Vedantic or mentalistic discipline is subject to debate. Ramana seemed to come down hard against Aurobindo’s position that the enlightened man had to participate in “bringing down the divine” into the Earth-plane, into matter; he said there was “nothing to come down or be made manifest.” Sastry, a devotee of both Ramana and Aurobindo, said to the contrary that in this instance Ramana was just criticizing some disciples of Aurobindo who took his views too materialistically, and that he (Ramana) was not in fundamental disagreement with the sage. The question remains, is there something more to be accomplished other than or “after” realizing the One? Is the Earth something to be “divinized” ? Is the Earth even a “some-thing” that is "real" [the definition of real being "that which is self-existent and never changes"], existing outside of Mind? That is to say, is everything, the All, the One, Already Perfect - or not? If perfect, can it be made "more perfect," as Suzuki Roshi said? I don’t know and I doubt any-body “knows” the answer to this. Papaji often said, “wait and see”, and perhaps that’s all we can do.

   In all this discussion, therefore, it is not forgotten that the primary or first task of the jiva or apparent individual person is Self-realization. Mark Scorelle coined an interesting term for this state. He calls it “the waking paradox of the Nous.” This avoids confusion with any expectation of an experience of oneness had by the Soul, whereas the Soul in the Nous or the Nous in the Soul is non-duality. Once thus ‘awakened,’ according to PB and Aurobindo, however, the Divine continues to have its way. The ‘individual’ has no more work to do for himself, yet paradoxically he does have more work to do, as he is then (phenomenally) merged into and working for the World-Idea - whether he actually does something like ‘work’ or not (perhaps for many it is just “chop wood, carry water,” as the Zen masters say).

   The nature of such awakening and the more ‘direct’ paths have been discussed adequately by numerous teachers and we will not go into them in detail here. But, before proceeding further, for just a glimpse, a flavor - and a pause from the more difficult material we have been presenting - we offer a few quotes to illustrate that point of view (which first and last requires the abandoning of all ‘points of view’ !). An important thing to remember is that, as Sri Nisargadatta tells us:

   "Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person." (65)

   Another quality of this awakening is, as Gangaji writes:

   "The fear of not knowing is transformed into the joy of not knowing." (66)

   This is good, yet it is not the ultimate stage. There is the state beyond knowing and not-knowing, and, further, beyond that! The reader is again directed to Dual Non-Dualism for more explanation.

   Longchenpa (1308-1364) proclaimed:

   "Desiring happiness is the illness of attachment. It is through the absence of desire, that one gains happiness. Buddhahood does not happen by being made to happen. It is unsought and naturally indwelling, and so is spontaneously present. Rest nonconceptually in this effortless, natural abiding state." (67)

   Sri Nisargadatta said:

   “You have woven the web of your own concepts and are caught in it. If you can get rid of all that, attain purity, overcome even the fear of life and death and thus attain to total equanimity, you have achieved the greatest victory...Not till one renounces everything is Self-knowledge gained: when all points of view are abandoned, what remains is the Self...All thoughts and beliefs lead to sorrow. Whereas no-thought and no-belief are pure bliss. Therefore, with the help of the fire of wisdom, vaporize the waters of your beliefs and become peaceful, supremely blissful. Behold the one infinite consciousness....What prevents you from knowing yourself as all and beyond all is the mind based on memory. It has power over you as long as you trust it; don’t struggle with it; just disregard it. Deprived of attention, it will slow down and reveal the mechanism of its working. Once you know its nature and purpose, you will not allow it to create imaginary problems." (68)


   "You are not doing anything. All this is happening spontaneously in you. If you want to understand the deep underlying meaning of this, go to the very source, to your beingness, and hold on to that. But above all, do not collect concepts.” (69)

   Only honesty and earnestness are required, he says. Your earnestness is the “homing instinct” that will take you where you want to go.

   PB writes:

   “Short Path--it is different because the idea "ego" does not come in, only the Overself, not the longing (which belongs to the Long Path), but the identification, not even aspiration. Long Path has to do with progress and takes a time for it and therefore means moving in time, and it is the ego who is working. Short Path is not concerned with time and therefore not with progress. Thinking only of the timeless Overself. No idea of progress, no desire, it does not matter. Real Self is always changeless. Progress implies change. All questions and problems disappear because the questioning (ego) intellect is not allowed to be active.” (70)

   Finally, Adyashanti suggests a glimpse:

   "This is when spirituality becomes not only real, but adventurous and fun. You ask, "This openness, this presence" -- call it what you will -- "this is what I am?" You start to feel or sense that you're on to something that's not a creation of thought, belief, or faith. And when you start to take it in, just this awakeness that's free of all identity, it's mind-boggling. In Zen we call it the uncreated; it's the only thing around that your mind is not creating." (71)

   Hopefully refreshed from this brief pause, we will continue with our original discussion. Aurobindo writes of his perspective on the state after awakening to the Soul:

   “[When we] realize in our experience the truth of the [statement in the Isha Upanishad], “What bewilderment can he have or what grief, when in all things he sees their oneness?”, the whole world then appears to us in a changed aspect, as an ocean of beauty, good, light, bliss, exultant movement on a basis of eternal strength and peace...We become one in soul with all beings...and, having steadfastly this experience, are able by contact, by oneness, by the reaching out of love, to communicate it to others, so that we become a center of the radiation of this divine state...throughout our world.” (72)

   Sri Nisargadatta also said:

   "Give up all and you gain all. Then life becomes what it was meant to be: pure radiation from an inexhaustible source." (73)

   Lest we be overwhelmed by Aurobindo's proclamation above, he assures us that this state is, or becomes, in a sense, ordinary. Nevertheless, it puts a feeling in the heart:

   “Immortality becomes no longer a belief or an experience but a normal self-awareness; the close presence of the Divine Being, his rule of the world and of our self and natural members, his force working in us and everywhere, the peace of the Infinite, the joy of the Infinite are now concrete and constant in the being; in all sights and forms one sees the Eternal, the reality, in all sounds one hears it, in all touches feels it; there is nothing else but its forms and personalities and manifestations; the joy or adoration of the heart, the embrace of all existence, the unity of the spirit are abiding realities.” (74)

   And further, almost like Plotinus, he writes:

   “He will perceive the beauty of the All-beautiful and the miracle of the All-Wonderful; he will enter in the end into the bliss of the Brahman and live abidingly in it and for all this he will not need to shun existence or plunge into the annihilation of the spiritual Person in some self-extinguishing Nirvana. As in the Self, so in Nature, he can realise the Divine. The nature of the Divine is Light and Power and Bliss; he can feel the divine Light and Power above him and descending into him, filling every strand of his nature, every cell and atom of his being, flooding his soul and mind and life and body, surrounding him like an illimitable sea and filling the world, suffusing all his feeling and sense and experience, making all his life truly and utterly divine.” (75)

   I admit this quite different from Sri Nisargadatta’s description of the Absolute as “a mass of consciousness”, or a “solid block of reality.” Yet it may be a limitation of words from which the ultimate difference arises, or perhaps from the extrapolation of further dimensions of the Teaching. Aurobindo's sadhana is much simpler than his philosophy, fortunately, and even that is not as complicated as it at first seems.

   Nevertheless, I feel the reader deserves still another ‘break’ from all these concepts. I personally am in it too far at this point to not continue these arguments to their end, to exhaust the subject and set questioning minds at rest, but, for now, stop and contemplate these three brief heart offerings.


   Having described PB’s and Aurobindo’s teachings on evolution, in order to give Anthony Damiani’s conclusions on the subject, we must first answer the question, “what gets enlightened?” PB writes:

   “What or who is seeking enlightenment It cannot be the higher Self, for that is of the nature of Light. There then only remains the ego! This ego, the object of so many denunciations, is the being that, transformed, will win truth and find reality even though it must surrender itself utterly in the end as the price to be paid.” (76)

   The ego, according to PB, is a collection of thoughts, perceptions, and sensations around a fixed but empty center. The actual sense of a permanent “I” comes from the ray of the Overself within the ego, not the matrix of thoughts, etc., that it is consisted of, and which co-opt the Light for itself, claiming for itself an inherent self-existence. The ego is a million years old, with habits that have been formed over millenia, which is why it is so hard to disidentify with it. But it is part of the World-Idea manifesting through the Soul, including the body which is the vehicle for the Soul to experience the World-Idea. So there is a divine purpose behind it.

   This, too, is a very positive view about the ego. Sri Nisargadatta, on the other hand, had a very different, more traditional, and for some, a perhaps more negative take on the subject:

   “It is in the nature of desire to prompt the mind to create a world for its fulfillment. Desire can produce a universe; its powers are miraculous....All this is unreal, like the creations in a dream. Hence the question: “How did all this arise in the one infinite consciousness” is immature and childish. The creation appears to take place on account of the intentions of the mind.” (77)

   No talk here of a World-Mind projecting a World-Idea and a body or vehicle for the Soul to experience the World-Idea and its manifestation in order to come to Self-cognition and also express its numerous Soul qualities. Just a return life after life due to the force of personal desire which hopefully will eventually generate the tendency to try to escape from the whole affair.

   On the other hand, he says:

   “The entire universe strives to fulfill a desire born of compassion.” (78)


   “Multiplicity and variety without strife is joy. In pure consciousness there is light. For warmth, contact is needed. Above the unity of being is the unity of love. Love is the meaning and purpose of duality.” (79)

   This suggests his view is not that negative after all, the first quote especially reminding one of the bodhisattva vow. Indeed, he further states:

   "Once you can say with confidence born from direct experience: 'I am the world, the world is myself', you are free from desire and fear on the one hand and become totally responsible for the world on the other. The senseless sorrow of mankind becomes your sole concern...With the dissolution of the personal 'I' personal suffering disappears. What remains is the great sadness of compassion, the horror of the unnecessary pain." 80)

   Anthony further comments on the ego:

   “You’re not going to get rid of the ego until you have sufficiently developed it, purified it, and brought it under the higher discipline, the higher philosophy..Actually, you don’t get rid of it, you have to transform it. Remember, he (PB) makes the point over and over again that the ego has to be evolved, matured. It won’t be capable of that sacrifice until it does reach maturity....No ego is going to surrender itself unless it has reached the profoundest level of understanding. That comes either through satiation of experience or this profundity of understanding, where the ego realizes that it has to make that effort. And, of course, grace will have to come in to help it, but this is the point we’re getting at, all right?..So after that point is reached, when the ego does reach that point, and it’s willing to surrender itself and Grace does intervene, then enlightenment occurs. Now, we’ve got to stop right here, because then if you say, “Who is enlightened?”, it is not the ego, it is the Void Mind [~Soul] itself that has recognized itself through that ego.” (81)

   Adyashanti said much the same thing:

   "You don't awaken, what has eternally been awake realizes itself. That which is eternally awake is what you are." (82)

   While what we are talking about is beyond concepts, spiritual teacher anadi would say, contrary to Adyashanti, that, in some sense, it is more accurate to say that realisation is two-fold: the Soul recognises itself in the Beloved, and the Beloved recognises Itself through the Soul. Paradoxically, You, or what he calls ”Me”, does awaken, for ‘who’ is it that is aware of that which is eternally awake? It is not the Absolute, the Unmanifest, the Uncreated beyond consciousness and unconsciousness. It must be the Soul. Thus, he posits a 'Primal Dualism' beyond even the non-dualism of consciousness (which he says is still in the realm of the Created) reached through transcending the dualism of the mind.

   In his commentaries on Plotinus, Damiani explains:

   “Soul incarnates or participates in the ideas of the planetary mind by perceiving the world and experiencing through a body what the gods think. Thus Earth - footstool of the Gods - nurses our soul to heavenly maturity and humanity. What is becoming explicit in this exegesis is a theory of the endless evolution of the content of an individual soul’s awareness. Through reasoning on the content of the World-Idea which it is manifesting, the Soul evolves its understanding until intellection becomes predominant, and this is brought to bear on its own self-nature. If the inquiry is pursued, this process will result in intrinsic self-awareness.” (83)

   Sri Nisargadatta similarly stated:

   "It is through the stirring of consciousness that the unmanifest Absolute becomes aware of its awareness through manifestation." (84)

   Richard Linchitz, a medical doctor and contemporary non-dualist teacher, believes this is only a convenient fable :

   “Well there are stories which you may hear about that consciousness has created these experiences so it can know itself. In a way that’s an attempt to make consciousness more understandable to the mind. I’m completely comfortable with saying that I don’t know - that’s part of the mystery. And in this awakening, the mystery is ok and there’s no need to ask any other questions. There’s a complete embrace of the perfection of what is. To say that consciousness creates anything or experiences anything is to make two from Oneness. Consciousnes or Source or Oneness or ALL There Is is just that: ALL THERE IS! All ‘creation’, ‘experiencing’, etc. are concepts contained within That.” (85)

   As this is the radical advaita position, there is little I can say to change ones mind set. However, let is be said simply that while thoughts of ‘creation’ or ‘experiencing’ or ‘consciousness’ are certainly concepts, that doesn’t mean the things themselves (which, strictly speaking, are not ‘things’) are concepts. And, in the teachings of PB, it is not, to be precise, ‘consciousness’ that creates experiences in order to know itself, but the World-Mind that emanates a World-Idea projected through each soul, also an emanation or ray of that World-Mind, which then grows through evolution to the point of self-cognition. Upon realisation there is the sense that one has been merely ‘de-hypnotized’, that nothing has really changed, and in that there is the understanding that there is no one, phenomenally independent, to be enlightened. Yet it is nevertheless accepted by higher tradition that there is a paradoxical form of duality beyond the essential non-duality of consciousness and creation, to wit, the soul and God. They are ‘not’ two’, but are distinct. The soul is not the ego or the subtle body, as non-dual teachers imply and often assert, it is an eternal existant. It is not God, but is in eternal unity with God. Atman is not Brahman. One has infinite power, while the other is a point of perception of that infinite, so to speak. And, of course, there is no question that it is all a mystery. If one is comfortable with that alone, who can argue otherwise? But perhaps within the depths of that mystery more will be unfolded to the amazed gaze of the soul. Why cut short the inquiry, or say there are no depths? Damiani continues:

   “On the one hand, the soul, the embodying soul, recognizes its attachment to the lower and tries to surrender it. But it, of its own free will, can’t surrender it. The higher power has to come in, and it surrenders. It’s this paradoxical nature. When it surrenders, it’s no longer ego. It’s returning to what it was.”

   RG: “In that moment, what’s added to the mind (Soul) that is already self-existent?”

   Anthony: “Nothing really, except you might say self-recognition...It’s like going home.”

   RG: “If it’s always enlightened, then what does it care?”

   Anthony: “You say, “What does it care? and we’ll be back in trouble again. It’s got to care. It’s got to see that it has a role to fulfill in this world, as part of the World-Idea.”

   Anthony: “It doesn’t take much perception to see that once one recognizes that the continuity of the ego is something that’s assured, in the sense that it will always go on, then you have to take a direct hand in guiding its growth and evolution - not only for its own purposes but for the purposes of all humanity...Isn’t that the Bodhisattva ideal? You’re offering to try to be of service. You realize the illusory nature of the ego. Now what would you do? Are you going to go around saying the ego doesn’t exist?...[No], you become dedicated to the Higher...to develop wisdom and compassion until all are enlightened...So that means that now you have to take a direct hand in guiding this karmic continuity.” (87)

   RG: “Would you say that the being that gets enlightened has become a perfected vehicle for revelation of the soul?”

   Anthony: “I don’t think so. I think its just starting. And you know, from what we’ve heard of people like the Buddha, it’s a long, long development. It goes on for many, many millenia.”

   “I don’t think there is anyone here who has not been put through it one way or another, everyone has been put through it some way or another. And I think you will see the reason for yourself. People who study truth, the philosophy of truth, will always be just a tiny number. Very, very few. And if you go to the stadium where they are playing a football game there will be a hundred thousand. If you go to a political rally there will be a million. But the people who are interested in truth, in their soul, you can count them. Five, ten, fifteen, twnety, you can count them...That’s why the sages keep coming back. To help us get a step ahead, another step and another step. Because it is so difficult. And it is so subtle. To find your way to the truth is really going to require all the brains you’ve got, all the will you’ve got, all the sensitivity you’ve got. And not only for a short while - like my friend who wanted to do it in one summer - but in many, many lives. Nobody is going to succeed in trying to understand the vastness of this thing by a couple of years work. So one of the first things you have to realize - and it will be absolutely important to realize - is that the adventure that you’re trying to get into is an infinite adventure. It’s not going to end. When you find your soul, it’s not the end. Now you’ve just begun to live. Until then we are animals. We think we are human beings, but if you read your history you would have to say, this can’t be a race of people, of humans, they’ve got to be animals.” (89)


   So what happens after awakening to the Soul? The perfecting of selfless service to all of creation, the continuous evolution of the ego as overshadowed and guided by the Soul, as well as an ever deepening of conscious absorption into the Void-Mind: ‘perfection and liberation’, according to Aurobindo. The Buddha was said to have mentioned that he was enlightened in many previous lives before attaining full Buddahood. So the paradoxical timeless process continues throughout all time.

   At the risk of being guilty of misusing language or being a victim of the wiles of the mind, I venture the following to try and reconcile the arguments presented so far regarding the issue of awakening and evolution.

   One can choose to simply awaken to the Self, in all, as all, and all in the Self, and stop there. Or, one can then assent to the further action of the Divine, and the process continues. Of course, one may rightly question, ’who’ chooses, and ‘who’ assents? The Soul. It seems in any case that it is really out of ones hand at that point - if not before. This, then, may be a resolution of non-duality and integralism, accceptable at least from the point of view of the mind. It is, no doubt, difficult or perhaps impossible (!) to speak of these things. As mentioned, at one point there was a lively debate going back and forth between devotees of both Ramama and Aurobindo over this very issue. [see near the end of the essay Sri Aurobindo and the Integral Yoga: The Ultimate Construction Project on this website].

   Sri Nisargadatta said:

   "Once it is understood, or rather, apperceived intuitively, that an entity is purely a conceptual notion, what remains is merely a re-integration - Yoga - in universality. Nothing remains to be done because there is no one to do it, and, more important, no one to abstain from doing it either!...Indeed, you will realize that the very effort of searching is an obstruction because the instrument with which you will be searching is a divided mind - a conceptual subject seeking a conceptual object. When you realize this, you will stop searching and let the impersonal consciousness take over. And then, when the impersonal consciousness lets you in on the mystery of its own source, you will know that there is no 'you', or 'me', but only 'I', the essential subjectivity." (90)

    If it is the case that there is a natural, organic evolutionary movement toward awakening (what Sri Aurobindo calls "the Yoga of Nature") then the most natural, organic practice would simply be to tune into that movement and step back (quiet the mind) and let it do its thing.

   The mind naturally becomes quiet and ultimately silent, simply by stepping back from the flow of activity. In that quiet mind, the experience or recognition of Being naturally emerges. And in that Silence, a movement, an aspiration for giving oneself wholly to the Divine, naturally, effortlessly emerges.  Resting in Being, and at the same time assenting to that movement of aspiration, the whole process continues on its own. Again, sounds like a plausible explanation - even if coming from within the dream state.

   On what ‘happens’ after Enlightenment, Melvyn Wartella beautifully writes:

   “We are breaking down millions of years of conditioning to find the freedom that has always been here. At first, you will wonder if what you feel and think is coming from Life, or is it conditioning. It all becomes clearer as we use our new found connection with Reality. Enlightenment is just a first step towards a full return to Life. However, it is a powerful step that takes us out of the dream of ego and opens our Heart to that which has always been and always will be.... I can well see the possibility of infinite evolution of what we are. All of that both has nothing to do with Enlightenment, and everything to do with it. Enlightenment is awakening to the facts, not the dreams of life. Evolution beyond that can be accelerated to a great degree by the removal of the ego sense/dream. So, Enlightenment is very important, but also just another step forward into an infinity of creation we can hardly imagine now. It is all very wonderful." (91)

   Robert Powell writes:

   "The ultimate teaching is the seeing of the entire world in not even a grain of sand, but a single point - and a point that is dimensionless. That mystical 'point' then serves as the entry into an entirely new dimension - the world of the truly spiritual...However, for the individual embracing this ultimate teaching, the vision of non-duality of reality does not mean that he has arrived. On the contrary, it is a mere beginning and the understanding has to be tested in life's experience, so that each moment is a new reality. This process of learning, from moment to moment, is a never-ending movement." (92)

   Eckhart Tolle also expresses the gist of all this quite succinctly:

   “No matter how much you have achieved here, unless you know the living truth you are like a seed that has not sprouted and you have missed the true purpose of human existence. And even if your life has been full of suffering and mistakes, it takes only this knowing to redeem it and retrospectively endow the seemingly meaningless with profound meaning. If all your mistakes have taken you to this point, this realization, how could they have been mistakes? "I am not what happens, but the space in which it happens." This knowing, this living truth, frees you from identification with form, from time as well as from a false, mind-made sense of self. What is that space in which everything happens? Consciousness prior to form.”

   "Know the truth and the truth shall set you free." These words spoken by Jesus refer not to some conceptual truth, but to the truth of who or what you are beyond name and form.They refer not to something that you need to know about yourself, but a deeper, yet extraordinarily simple knowing, in which the knower and the known merge into one. Now the egoic split is healed and you are made whole again. We could describe the nature of this knowing thus: suddenly, consciousness becomes conscious of itself. When this happens, you become aligned with the evolutionary impulse of the Universe, which is towards the emergence of consciousness into this world.”

   A couple of minor points. Sri Aurobindo also talked this way, but is "consciousness" something that can "emerge into this world"? Or isn't the world always arising in consciousness? [Perhaps I am being too picky. Didn't PB say, "It is the unmanifest image of God in which man is made and which he has yet to bring into manifestation in his everyday consciousness" ?] Second, is "consciousness prior to form" actually the "space" in which everything is happening, or is "space" not a category resulting from a dualistic mind, necessary for the appearance of objects in consciousness? Equating consciousness with space could lead one to an unfruitful attempt to imagine himself to be a thing called "space", instead of actually coming to a non-dual awakening of limitless Consciousness by actually seeing through the illusory nature of the ego. Yet it is also true that in numerous Buddhist passages the mind is compared to the vastness and emptiness of space, so if it is taken as a metaphor it is all right. But my point is this. As explained by Swami Rangathananda:

   "The citta-akasa, referred to..as the Vedantic equivalent of (the) space-time continuum, still involves the duality of the subject and the object, and therefore provokes a deeper inquiry. This limitation is overcome in the highest Vedantic view of Consciousness, which it refers to as the cid-akasa. It is the akasa of cid, the Void of Pure Consciousness [Self, Brahman, the ultimate reality of Vedanta]. It is the same citta-akasa viewed non-causally." (94)

   [Again, here is another example of the questionable view that consciousness is Ultimate Reality].

   Gangaji writes that now is the time that direct seeing into one’s true nature is, in principle, both uncomplicated and easy, with the right guidance and help:

   “At this point in our human history, what was once reserved for the most rare beings is available to ordinary people. Because we have considered ourselves ordinary, we have kept a certain door closed within our brains and within our hearts to the truth at the core of it all. But at this time there is a crack in our conditioning. If you are reading this you are already aware of it to some degree...This is a time of the ordinary awakening. This means you, not only those born under the brightest stars but the ordinary person as well.” (95)

   [Here, too, while it is admitted that the process is getting easier than it was in the past, it is still maintained that the initial awakening to consciousness, or the state of Presence, is not the final degree of Enlightenment, which is the fruit of a profound evolution].

   PB speaks of awakening enabling one to find his true purpose:

   "When a man or woman comes into fuller awareness of the True Self he arrives at the same time at the discovery of his true work, together with the capacity to perform it. Such an individual usually has innate ability--but the development of this ability depends upon his struggles to achieve it." (96)

   Aurobindo and PB’s teachings on evolution and awakening as well present a very positive picture of their meaning and purpose. They were true pioneers of the spirit, to whom much is owed. PB himself prophesied that new forms of teachings were necessary for a new world. Spiritual teachings, practice, and even realization itself may be changing or evolving, although one must consider such notions with a healthy degree of caution. In a 2007 interview Adyashanti gave his view on this:

   "To equate enlightenment with the evolution of consciousness for humanity is to absolutely misunderstand what enlightenment is all about. And it’s nothing new. People have been saying for thousands of years that we’re on the cusp of “a new state of consciousness,” and they will for thousands more. By and large, it is a mechanism for putting ourselves to sleep rather than waking up. Most people who think they’re part of the greater awakening of humanity are actually just aggrandizing their own egos. The truth is we don’t know the future. We can’t know the future. One of the best ways to stay asleep is to wait for a future when we’ll all be awake. But...if the whole world wakes up tomorrow, I’ll be glad that I was wrong." (97)

    Perhaps it is just that the best of the great traditions are being clarified. Yet is hard to deny that something new is happening. Mirra Alfassa agreed:

   “It is not a question of repeating spiritually what others have done before us, for our adventure begins beyond that. It is a question of a new creation, entirely new, with all the unforeseen events, the risks, the hazards it entails - a real adventure, whose goal is uncertain and must be traced out step by step, in the unexplored. Something that has never been in this present universe and that will never be again in the same way....One must put aside all that has been foreseen, all that has been devised, all that has been constructed and then...set off walking into the unknown.” (98)

   Adyashanti has said that for the liberated one there is an ever-deepening process, ie., that even liberation is not in any sense "the end":

   "The realization of your true nature is the end of not-knowing who and what you are. The belief that you are simply the body-mind mechanism comes to an end, but this is not the end in any absolute sense. It's the beginning of another mysterious unfolding. It's the beginning of something without end. When you awaken, you realize that around that body-mind is presence and space, and you know that you are this infinite presence. This presence is inconceivable, even to those who realize it. You can't say what it is; you just know that it is what you are. It could be called emptiness, consciousness, God, or spirit, but still there's a certain mystery to it all...In the infinite, you have great, ever-deepening realizations, and yet there is simultaneously the sense that nothing is going anywhere. Everything is an unfolding of stillness within stillness." (99)

   Pema Chodron writes:

   "The path has one very distinct characteristic: it is not prefabricated. It doesn't already exist. The path that we're talking about is the moment -by-moment evolution of our experience, the moment -by-moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment-by-moment evolution of our thoughts and emotions...No matter where we are on the bodhisattva path, whether we are just beginning or we've practiced for years, we're always stepping further into groundlessness. Enlightenment is not the end of anything. Enlightenment, being completely awake, is just the beginning of fully entering into we know not what." (100)

   Jeff Foster remarked:

   "The end of seeking is not really the end of anything – it is the beginning of something else; it’s the beginning of living, it’s the beginning of the real adventure." (101)

   anadi describes many possibilities for the Soul after Enlightenment:

   “The evolution of consciousness is just a beginning of the journey into the Supreme Awakening. When the light of awareness is established [the first Enlightenment], we are free from our negative absence in unconsciousness. But what can we do with this freedom? We surrender it to the Absolute through our Being [the second Enlightenment] , and to the Divine through our Heart [the third Enlightenment]. Here, we begin the process of merging with the Beloved. There is no end to this love affair with God. And, dear friend, it is far beyond the human effort of being conscious.

   “The state Beyond Enlightenment can be viewed from several different angles. For example, awakening to the Heart and transcending the Absolute State is one way to go beyond Enlightenment. Another way is to drop the concept of being a Buddha, to drop the need to translate one’s state as anything. The next way is to return to the world and to the reality of being human. That’s why we speak of the Human Buddha. The next meaning of going beyond Enlightenment refers to the continuation of one’s evolution into the Mystery. There are further Enlightenments which are beyond the traditional models. One can expand infinitely into the dimension of Love and Intelligence. But how far one wishes to expand, relates to one’s unique blueprint and evolution. That is the other meaning of going beyond Enlightenment. There are many secrets, many mysteries and many ways of encountering Infinity which are beyond the totality of human knowledge.”

   He elaborates on the human completion necessary for the soul to transcend human destiny and evolution and enter the universalevolution. Part of this is related to traditional concepts of enlightenment, and part, in his view, goes beyond:

   “It is the consciousness that embodies the inner reality that is the true measure of the evolutionary value of any awakened state. Hence, someone with a profoundly realized state of presence may in fact be more conscious and evolved than someone abiding in the absolute state. It is not what has been attained that matters most, but who has attained it. This ‘who’ is the quality of our consciousness and intelligence, the existential depth of our very soul, the subject of all stages of awakening.”

   "The purpose of evolution, however, is not only to reach self-realisation, but to become whole, which must also include completion in the human dimension. Far from being an escape from the difficulties of human life, the way to wholeness involves the completion of many aspects of our human existence: purification of the subconscious mind, emotional healing, psychological maturation, the development of a harmonious connection with the world, the fulfilment of core desires and the ending of karma.”


   This last factor, the ending of karma, is important. On the Path of Sant Mat it is a crucial element. These saints have often said that 95% of their grace is withheld until the time of the disciple’s death, and that a key factor for him is to mold his life to a climax of humility, purity, and sincerity to produce the necessary factor of receptivity in him, and that the rest of the work is up to the master. This may sound simplistic, but it carries a deep truth.

   anadi says that there is a challenge presented to us by life to find what we need for our soul’s completion, and, in this regard, that the ending of karma includes these elements:

   “The challenge of each one of us is to discover which elements need to be present in our life in order to manifest the true completion, that is, happiness. Each Soul must find her way to her destination and transcendence. It usually involves an emotional fulfillment, reaching certain essential Inner States, realizing basic desires, adventuring in life, and ending of the Karma, which in truth contains all of the other aspects.” (104)

   This, of course, can easily be misunderstood, which is why the reader is advised to read anadi’s latest, “book of enlightenment” (2011), and which is the only one he now recommends that one read. I guarantee the latter will give one a breakthrough or a breakdown, heart-joy or a heart attack, depending on ones state of mind. [Refreshingly, for those who have read his works to date, or the series, “Dual Non-Dualism” on this website, in this book as contrasted with previous ones he has abandoned capitalizing any words, such as Soul, God, Creator, Divine, Beyond, I AM or I Am, including even his own name, suggesting that he, as well as his teaching, continues to evolve]. He speaks on the transition to universal evolution:

   “The bliss of freedom, peace of liberation, and joy of transcendence are the last emotions we feel in the plane of forgetfulness - and though they point to the beyond, they are nonetheless still tied to our human consciouness. Only when these relative experiences are left behind through the power of absence can we be reborn into our universal existence.”

   “There is an immense difference between our evolution on earth and our post-transcendence existence in the beyond. Upon entering the domain of universal consciousness, the soul becomes one with the eternal expansion of light and intelligence. Evolution is no longer her private affair; it is universal and infinite. Evolution within the state of wholeness is by nature impersonal, because the soul in transcendence no longer owns her individuality - it is owned by her creator. It is the divine who evolves, experiencing the realm of creation through countless souls, beings of light and forms of consciousness.”

   “Evolution has no end. We may believe that the need for evolution proves the existence of imperfection, and this is so - but only in the phenomenal universe. Within universal I am, evolution is not based on the transcendence of imperfection, but on the expansion of perfection. While on earth, we evolve from imperfection to never-fully-achieved-perfection; in the true reality, it is perfection itself that evolves towards an eternally ascending frequency of consciousness and truth.”

   Robert Adams, disciple of Ramana Maharshi, said:

   “You have nothing to do with it, and you have nothing to say about it. When it happens to you, it will happen totally and completely. You got a glimpse off it and apparently you got a good glimpse of it. But who are you to say that you’re not ready for that? You speak as if you are an authority on God, that you have something to do with it. When God is ready for you, God will take you over completely. And you’ll have absolutely nothing to say about it whatsoever.” (106)

   Sri Nisargadatta remarked:

   “When you are no longer attached to anything, you have done your share. The rest will be done for you.” [Q: By whom?] “By the same power that brought you so far, that prompted your heart to desire truth and your mind to seek it. It is the same power that keeps you alive. You may call it Life or the Supreme...There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Relax and watch the 'I am'. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or, rather, it will take you in." (” (107)

   Kapali Sastry, devotee of both Ramana and Aurobindo, in paraphrasing the latter, writes:

   “There is a background for everything. Every movement depends on something. And that something is a Silence which upholds everything including your own mental activity. All the thoughts and mental movements come and go, against a base that is ever stable. That is Silence...Suspend for a moment your thought-activity and you’ll become conscious of this presence..Think of this Silence again and again and try to become aware of it. By a steady digging in of this idea in your consciousness, this fact will become a reality to you - not merely for the mind but for the rest of the being. Into this Silence you must learn to relax yourself. Instead of trying to get at it, simply relax, call and let yourself lie in the folds of the Silence. That will slowly come over you and claim you.” (108)

   This reminds me of a paragraph of PB’s where he writes:

   "The Overself will overshadow him. It will take possession of his body. There will be a mystical union of its mind with his body. The ego will become entirely subordinate to it." (109)

   Annamalai Swami, disciple of Ramana Maharshi, said:

   "When you have become one with the Self, a great power takes you over and runs your life for you. It looks after your body; it puts you in the right place at the right time; it makes you say the right things to the people you meet. This power takes you over so completely, you no longer have any ability to decide or discriminate. The ego that thinks, `I must do this,' or, `I should not do that,' is no longer there. The Self simply animates you and makes you do all the things that need to be done." (110)

   One is called back again and again to the message of simplicity. In the words of the Mother:

   “Sri Aurobindo came to tell us: "One need not leave the earth to find the Truth, one need not leave the life to find his soul, one need not abandon the world or have only limited beliefs to enter into relation with the Divine. The Divine is everywhere, in everything and if He is hidden, it is because we do not take the trouble to discover Him." (111)

   Sri Nisargadatta said:

   "There is a power in the universe working for enlightenment - and liberation. We call it Sadashiva, who is ever present in the hearts of men. It is the unifying factor....In the light of calm and steady self-awareness inner energies wake up and do miracles without any effort on your part." (112)

   Roy Eugene Davis, direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, beautifully writes:

   "Grace is the enlivening life (spirit) of God supporting and transforming creation. It expresses throughout the field of nature and from within every soul. It directs the course of evolution and awakens souls from their sleep of mortality." (113)

   Several of the leading teachers to come out of Pondicherry, like Madhav Pandit (considered by Mother to have the greatest understanding of the Yoga) were very fond of Maharshi's inquiry. Sri Aurobindo himself often recommended inquiry for realization of the Self. This for him was the first and most basic stage in the Integral Yoga, without which the Yoga was not possible.

   One may object and say that all of these characters searched and meditated for years before coming to their simple conclusion. And, as we have mentioned, PB speaks of a long evolutionary process. There’s no getting around the fact that it is a paradoxical affair.

   By the way, in speaking of 'paradox', even that we can't get away with (!), as Jeff Foster points out:

   "We only call something a paradox when we are wrestling with two different things, contradictory things that appear to be true at the same time. But there are not really two different ‘things’ being true at the same time, so it’s not really a paradox, there’s nothing to resolve. Thought creates two opposing ‘things’ and then tries to put them back together, and it’s hopeless, and then it calls this a ‘paradox’. Prior to the original split, there is no paradox." (114)

   It may come after a crisis, or a long time of seeking, but the end result is surrender of effort and struggle. Becoming ripe may take some time, but the fruit falls instantly when it is ready. And those reading a paper like this have no doubt achieved almost all the preliminary ‘evolution’ required for taking to more direct paths of awakening. As Ch’an master Seng Ts’an said, “trust in the heart, cease having views.” There’s not much of a teaching better than that.

   "It all works out in the end...if it hasn't worked out yet, it's not the end."


(1) Kapali Sastry was a disciple of Ganapati Muni for a number of years, Muni being among Maharshi's most well-known students. At one point, Sastry wrote a comprehensive commentary on Maharshi's "Sat Darshana Bhashya". In it he included a number of terms coined by Sri Aurobindo, as well as much of Sri Aurobindo's "integral" philosophy.  Maharshi went over the entire commentary and gave it a strong seal of approval. Sastry wrote extensive commentaries about Maharshi's philosophy and also recorded talks with him. Sastry explained succinctly in his diary in 1948 how he worked out the different yogas for himself: “In the Maharshi’s teaching, as indeed in all the yoga of ancient India, the problem to be solved is the problem of the individual. In Sri Aurobindo’s teaching, it is the problem of man in his total being and the meaning of his existence on earth that is sought to be discovered and worked out. The problems are different and so are the solutions.” In this way, Sastry found a compatibility with his gurus.

(2) ...”He teaches a philosophy of universal Realism as opposed to the Mayavadin Universal Illusionism.  Hence, for Aurobindo, the attainment of Nirvana, while a preeminently valuable achievement, is but the beginning of a process which returns to the world in order that transformation may be effected in the evolution, whereas, for Shankara and the Mayavadins, the evolution is simply irrelevant and Nirvana is a culmination. For Aurobindo, world process and development remain significant even for the Divine Life. The Crown of Sri Aurobindo lies in this that through him the Divine has been drawn down into the mundane field for its spiritualization in a degree and sense that has rarely if ever been realized heretofore.....” (Franklin Merrill-Wolff on Sri Aurobindo, 1951).

Obviously, this is very different from the view of Advaita, which doesn't admit to even a hint of a spirit-matter split, but only to the bifurcating faculty of the mind making it appear that there is a split, a view which Aurobindo himself made no bones about refuting, having claimed to unlock the secret of the Vedas unrevealed for three thousand years. While Aurobindo, and even PB, were perhaps right in refuting lesser Vedantins and even Sankara over the illusionist doctrine, they can be misleading in places if one concludes after reading them that true Vedanta is exclusive and not non-dualistic. Remember, "The World is Brahman" was the third part of Sankara's formula of reality; Nirvana is not elsewhere, it is the All, Reality, that which can't be negated. Equating Nirvana with formless trance is not correct, as Aurobindo did early on when speaking of his initial realization of "silence in Brahman", but he moved in the right direction when he taught about not excluding the world from the Divine. Yet this, in fact, is exactly what true Vedanta asserts].

(3) John Davidson writes, in The Prodigal Soul (Great Britain: Clear Press Ltd., 2004), p. 242-243, referring to various Gnostic texts:

   “The soul reaches the kingdom of God, mingling there with the other souls who inhabit that region, living in a state of intoxicating worship and love of the Divine, blissfully glorifying him through the “voice of sweetness”, the unending ringing of the divine Music of the Word. The drop has merged with the ocean, the ray has rejoined the sun. But even this is not the end, for there are higher phases of the Godhead still to be experienced. The soul speaks of the “Majestry of my Father”. In the original Syriac, this phrase is more than simple descriptive praise. It refers to the first phase of the Godhead. Mystics and gnostics have said that the Godhead is absolute and eternal, beyond all change, division and dissolution. He is one, they say, yet he is experienced in several - often four - aspects. These aspects represent the ever deepening awareness of the soul as its final union with God becomes complete. It is not so much that the undivided oneness of God has aspects, but that the soul gradually becomes aware of the fullness of the divine immensity...”

   “Other gnostic texts also speak of a fourfold Godhead. In the Gospel of the Egyptians, it is called the “Four Lights”. In Zostrianos, these are described as the four realms, powers or “aeons” of real existence, as opposed to the remainder of the creation that constantly changes and is therefore unreal, like a mirage or dream.
[The rulers or powers within the mind realms are called “archons”]. The manuscript is very poorly preserved, leaving many words illegible or missing, but the meaning is clear enough:

“Kalyptos is a single aeon, he has four different aeons...
All of them exist in One, dwelling together,,...
   and filled with aeon that really exists...
The first of the aeons is Harmedon, the Father-Glory...
The second light is one in which he is unknowable...
The third light is...
The fourth light is...a teaching and glory...
   and the Truth of the four aeons...
It is Kalyptos who has divided again,
   and they exist together...
The aeons that really exist do so in Silence.
The (supreme) Existence is inactivity,
   and knowledge of the self-established Kalyptos
   is ineffable...
Together with the aeon in the aeons,
   he has a fourfold difference
   with all the rest who are there.
But Kalyptos really exists.”

(4) Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 381, as quoted in: Don Salmon and Jan Maslow, Yoga Paychology and the Transformation of Consciousness (St. Paul , MN: Paragon House, 2007), p. 335)
(5) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdettt, NY: Larson Publications), Vol. 6, 8:1.158
(6) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit., p. 347-348
(7) Ibid, p. 350
(8) Ibid, p. 346
(9) Sri Nisargadatta, I AM THAT (Durham,NC: The Acorn Press, 1993), p. 12
(10) Robert Powell, The Nectar of Immortality: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj Discourses on the Eternal (San Diego, CA: Blue Dove Press, 2001), p. 59
(11) Ibid, p. 12, 465, 381, 72, 376
(12) Ibid, p. 286
(13) Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, source misplaced
(14) Sri Aurobindo, On Yoga II, Tome One, p. 294
(15) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit., p. 20
(16) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 357-358
(17) Ibid, p. 230
(18) Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 225
(19) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit.,p. 347
(20) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 52, 64
(21) Ibid, reference misplaced
(22) as quoted in Steve Taylor, Waking from Sleep (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2010), p. 189
(23) Plotinus, reference misplaced
(24) Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 112
(25) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 124
(26) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit., p. 260)
(27) Sri Aurobindo, op. cit., p. 693
(28) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part One, 4.42
(29) Brunton, unpublished essay
(30) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 6. 26:4.257
(31) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit., p. 302
(32) Aziz Kristof (anadi), The Human Buddha (Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000), p. 351
(33) Paul Brunton, The Wisdom of the Overself (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1984 (first by Ryder & Co., 1943), p. 185-186
(34) Jugal Krishnore Mukherjee, Mysteries of Death, Fate, Karma and Rebirth (Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, 2008), p. 90-91
(35) Kristof, op. cit., p. 107, 281-282, 289-290, 349, 271, 346
(36) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit., p. 338-339
(37) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 1, 2.109
(38) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., reference misplaced
(39) Hubert Benoit, Zen and the Psychology of Transformation (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1990), p. 64-65
(40) Swami Rangathananda, The message of Vivekachudamani (Kolkotta, India: Advaita Ashrama, 2008), p. 249
(41) Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 236-237
(42) Powell, op. cit., p. 49)
(43) Sri Krishna Prem, Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, p. 128
(44) Anthony Damiani, Looking Into Mind (Burdett, NY: Larson Publications, 1990), p. 206-207
(45) Stephen MacKenna, Plotinus: The Enneads (Burdett, NY: Larson Publications, 1992), p. 213; Ennead III, 4.6
(46) Plotinus, Enneads V, Tractate 8, translation misplaced
(47) Stephen MacKenna, Plotinus: The Enneads (Burdett, NY: Larson Publications, 1992), p. 428-429, Ennead 5:1.6
(48) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., reference misplaced
(49) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 4, 2.142
(50) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 4, 2.142
(51) Ibid, Vol. 16, Part 4, 1.01
(52) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 497
(53) Salmon and Maslow, op. cit., p. 300
(54) Rumi, source unknown
(55) Meister Eckhart, as quoted in Ramesh Balsekar, A Duet of One (Durham, NC: The Acorn Press, 1989), p. 195
(56) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 274-275, 372
(57) Paul Brunton, Essays on the Quest (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1984), p. 183
(58) Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 2, 4.2, 4.15, 4.63
(59) Ibid, 4.261
(60) Vol. 13, Part 2, 4.9
(61) Ibid, 4.11
(62) Ibid, Vol. 15, Part 1, 4.54
(63) A.H. Almaas, Inner Journey Home, posted on Facebook
(64) Garma C.C. Chang, The Practise of Zen (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1959 (1970), p. 162-163
(65) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 343
(66) Gangaji, The Diamond In Your Pocket, reference misplaced
(67) The All-Creating Monarch Tantra, from Longchenpa's PreciousTreasury of the Basic Space of Phenomena (Padma Publishing, 2001)

"Though the topics in this text are so profound that ordinary people will find it difficult to fathom their meaning, I have presented them without adulterating them with more common themes, and so have ensured that these teachings concerning the vajra heart essence, the most majestic spiritual approach, will last for a long time in this world. To those of you fortunate enough to have a devoted interest in this sublime spiritual approach, my earnest advice is: this text will serve as your eyes, so treat it with the highest respect."   - Longchenpa

(68) Sri Nisargadatta, as quoted in The Seven Steps To Awakening, (The Freedom Religon Press, 2010), p. 38-39, 107
(69) Powell, op. cit., p. 140
(70) Paul Brunton, Tyrolean Talk, 1965
(71) Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing, reference misplaced, www.adyashanti.org/
(72) Sri Aurobindo, Essays on Philosophy and Yoga, p. 77-78
(73) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p.257
(74) Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 913-914
(75) Ibid, p. 563-564
(76) Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 6, 8:4.435
(77) as quoted in The Seven Steps To Awakening, op. cit., p. 59, 72
(78) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 67
(79) Ibid, p. 100
(80) Ibid, p. 496
(81) Anthony Damiani,Standing in Your own Way (Burdett, NY: Larson Publications, 1993), p. 253
(82) Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing, www.adyashanti.org/
(83) MacKenna, op. cit., p. 737
(84) Balsekar, op. cit., p. 171
(85) Rick Linchitz, No You and No Me (Salisbury, United Kingdom, 2011), p. 33
(86) Damiani, op. cit., p. 256-257
(87) Ibid. p. 256-257
(88) Ibid, p. 258
(89) Anthony Damiani, Looking Into Mind, op. cit., p. 147-148
(90) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 95, 74
(91) Melvyn Wartella, from "Essays", www.friendsofreality.org
(92) Powell, op. cit., end matter, excerpt from the book Path Without Form
(93) Eckhart Tolle -- from: Gangaji, The Diamond in Your Pocket (Foreword), www.eckharttolle.com/
(94) Swami Ranganathananda, The Message of Vivekachudamani (Kolkata, India: Advaita Ashram, 2008), p. 258
(95) Gangaji, op. cit., reference misplaced
(96) Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 2, 1.321
(97) "Who Hears This Sound?", The Sun Magazine, Dec. 2007, Issue 384
(98) Mirra Alfassa, op. cit., p. 150
(99) Adyashanti, (Summer/Fall 2008 Retreat brochure)
(100) Eden Steinberg, The Pocket Pema Chodron (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2008), p. 146, 176
(101) Dialogue On Non Duality With Jeff Foster – Interview by Paula Marvelly
(102) Kristof, op. cit., p. 497-498
(103) anadi, book of enlightenment(www.anaditeaching.com, 2011), p. 16
(104) Aziz Kristof (anadi), Transmission of Awakening (Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999), p. 63
(105) anadi, op. cit., p. 294-295
(106) Robert Adams, Silence of the Heart, p.
(107) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 54, 520-521
(108) T.V.P. Sastry, Collected Works, p. 10
(109) Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, 1:5.19
(110) Annamalai Swami, Final Talks, ed. David Godman (Avadhuta Foundation), p. 26
(111) Mirra Alfassa, source misplaced
(112) Sri Nisargadatta, op. cit., p. 462, 311
(113) Roy Eugene Davis, An Easy Guide to Meditation (Lakemont, GA: CSA Press, 1995), p. 43
(114) Dialogue On Non Duality With Jeff Foster – Interview by Paula Marvelly