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Non-Duality and the Soul - 3

   "After the optimists have had their say and the Advaitins have preached, the hard fact will be echoed back by experience: The goal is set so far, his powers so limited, that he has to call on the quality of patience and make it his own."

   "Despite the high idealistic talk of oneness, brotherhood and egolessness, each of us is still an individual, still has to dwell in a body of his own, to use a mind of his own and experience feelings of his own. To forget this is to practise self-deception. Each will come to God in the end but he will come as a purified, transformed and utterly changed person, lived in and used by God as he himself will live in and be conscious of the presence of God."

   Nondual Realization considered from several angles

   We must now relate this discussion more directly to nondual realization itself. Nondual realization is basically nirvana, the end of the experience of a separate self that can feel lack, being alone, desire or suffering. One has been reborn in a new type of individuality which has as it very foundation or essence an nondual understanding of relativity. So one is now an enlightened part of relativity, one is no longer in a state of samsaric consciousness, and one sees and participates in relative phenomena while resting in a state of realizing the nondual nature of all that arises - self and world. Upon this new foundation, one will continue to evolve in one's individualized actualization of the implications of the realization of nondualism within relativity, which implications are vast and endless and so provide a evolutionary 'future' that goes on as far as we can see.

   This may seem a bit of a diversion, but if we can speak in terms of stages of ‘initiation’, which are not 'ceremonies' but shifts in consciousness, that also relate to integration of realization with the planes and bodies, it has been said that at the third initiation, one gains access to a deep ground of inner peace and equanimity, and has access to nondual contemplation in meditation. This would be penetration to the 'middle or soul triad' in theosophy of 'atma/buddhi/higher manas. This could be said to be the 'beginning of the end of duality'. It is sometimes called 'enlightenment', as the personality is now under the control of the light of the soul (defined as the causal body, the formless, intuitive dimension and place of rest for the evolving monad between incarnations), and one is free of the dominion of the lower self/bodies. At the fourth initiation, the level of buddhic consciousness, this equanimity is very profound, and extends even to the inner worlds. One is already more or less liberated here, but there are residual mental karmas. [Some have called this a consciousness or plane of unity, but this must be carefully distinguished from nondual realization which often goes under a similar name]. One is essentially in a basic state of sahaja samadhi so that one is not conditioned by these karmas. At the fifth or atmic initiation these karmas are exhausted, allowing the intensity of the nondual realization to shine even more brightly through one's personality. All personal suffering is over. But from a basic point of view, even by the fourth the sense of individual separation has ended. This is the Arhat. One has met the soul, but not yet become fully one with it. And then individual karma ends at the fifth, having been finally exhausted. After that, the monad is released from the middle or soul triad, and comes 'enlightened ascent into infinity' (as Cypriote mystic Daskalos put it), or entry onto the 'way of higher evolution', as the Tibetans have said.

   Even the third initiation (purification from physical, astral-emotional, and mental karmas) is getting pretty close to liberation, and since it is the third stage of the 'nonreturner', it is, in fact, liberation from the physical world. But the fourth brings one to the point of directly 'reflecting' the nondual light, and the fifth brings one to more fully 'being' the source of the light (expressions Sri Yukteswar used to distinguish these two subtly different states). But this is not the end. The 'trancendant ray of Spirit or Monad that passed through the Human Idea to become the 'Humanized Self of the 'soul triad', is now freed for even higher realization.

   To recap, the higher mind dips more into dualism/relativity and so has a type of spiritual understanding more tainted with dualism, and divides the world up into spirit and matter, good and bad, etc.. It is spiritual and luminous, but somewhat veiled. But it provides the essential foundation for spiritual life - basic discrimination. Buddhi stands between atman and higher mind, and expresses a growing integration of nondual realization (i.e., a sense of unity-in-diversity) and relative discrimination. This creates a holistic, integral, intuitive, tantric realization that not only discriminates wholesome and unwholesome states, and the wisdom to realize the karmic implications of each, but also has enough nondual wisdom to see that in the heart of all unwholesome traits (anger, loneliness, sorrow, greed, attachment, arrogance, etc.) are spiritual qualities and wisdom, 'trapped in' or distorted into unwholesome forms. This realization is the foundation of the tantric sensibility, whereby a energy (whether it be a simple energy like the elements, or elemental 'compounds' like an emotion, desire or thought) can be transformed/liberated into its light essence, or soul expression, which is virtue/wisdom. Atman is more univeral/nondual - it is Rigpa, Sach Khand or Sat Lok of the Sants.

   So these are the three basic modes of human spiritual experience or understanding (nondual, tantric, wisdom), reflected in each of the three higher bodies - atma-buddhi-higher manas, and together can be considered the human 'spiritual' soul. Beyond that is the 'monad', and 'below' that is the form bodies of lower mind, astral and physical.

   Most important point - the idea of endless evolution within 'relativity' does not mean endless participation in samsara, or the state of dualistic suffering, which is a state of mind. One realizes the state of nondual realization or nirvana within relativity, and then for that person, samsara/suffering ends!

   One might ask, is there individuality even in Anami Lok, the ‘God’ state even said to be beyond the soul, as described in Sant Mat, or whatever the highest formless ultimate dimension one conceives of in any particular tradition? In fact, yes, some believe there can be a type of individuality there, but these states are so lofty and 'remote' from human physical consciousness that it is pretty impossible to retain memory or understanding of these states when returning to the body, and virtually impossible to ground these states in a body as a steady state, and,thus, few in human history have done so, and they are said to usually not take incarnation again. So it becomes a more subtle issue how to explore them, and bridge understanding back. The higher limits or ceiling are not visible from either human physical consciousness on this planet, nor from great masters exploring these questions on higher planes and communicating their findings to us at this level. The nondual ground of being is not at the top of a hierarchy of planes, but rather is the essence of which all planes are made. So it is possible on various planes, not just on the highest, to realize a state of consciousness that directly appreciates this ground since it is omnipresent. So the nature of the highest plane is not that it has a monopoly on direct nondual realization. This is not what distinguishes it from planes below it. Because of that, realization can also be had on planes below it. Instead, they have to do with the expression of the actualization of nondual realization in relationship to different dimensions or aspects of relativity. The lower set of planes appears to primarily have to do with the microcosm. So attaining a certain level of self-realization is primarily about realizing nondual realization in the context of the human idea and the microcosm. Higher octaves of higher planes appear to have more to do with integrating or actualizing nondual realization in the context of planetary, solar, and increasingly more macrocosmic contexts. PB may have had this in mind in his quote about ‘sahaj not being the highest state possible, but only the highest possible for man’ (and might have said, ‘in the current condition of both himself and this planet’), and also that 'we shall be with God as higher creatures'.

   Christian mystic Daskalos, in a lecture given Oct. 16, 1989, said:

   "The human intelligence, even in the highest order of the mystics, cannot go beyond what you call the Seven Heavens, yet there may be many, many more which the human intelligence cannot conceive...Beyond that he is no more a human being. He is something else. God. For those worlds of dimensions it is not permissible to reveal much."

   This is also suggested in Buddhism where they speak of liberated realms beyond the six worlds of samsara (hell, preta or hungry ghosts, animals, human, asuras, and gods), for the sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. The sravaka stage is that of the solitary realizer or Arhat, while the pratyekabuddha is defined as a level of realization gained solely by oneself, and predominant in kalpas or ages when there are no enlightened Buddhas. The pratyekabuddha has realized the emptiness of the ego, but is said to only 'half-realized' the emptiness of phenomenon. Therefore, these two are not fully nondually realized, although free of samsara. These might be compared to the 'super-causal' stages of Daswan Dwar and Bhanwar Gupta in Sant Mat - where the soul is free of the three bodies, mind, and ego, and realized its essence, proclaimed by "Soham", or "Oh God, I am of the same essence as Thou art," or "I Am That", which is considered on this path as 'Self-realization', but not yet the nondual realization of Sat Lok, the first of several stages of 'God-realization'. In Buddhism there are likewise said to be ten Bodhisattva perfections as well as stages, and in some teachings even more. These as well as the Buddha realization are all nondual, beyond human conception and only known with the 'pure (i.e., non-dual) perception' of the liberated ones.

   So, to continue, if one is ‘reborn’in Sach Khand’ (or its essential equivalent on any path, including ‘non-inversion’ paths), exactly what is one born into? Certainly not, as PB said, ‘a heaven of a perpetuated ego.' The Soul will know its identity inseparable from the Sat Purush, and unfold into more rarified levels of individuality and oneness, beyond conception, both before and after death - within nonduality which filters down (and up) through all planes and realms. Surely as PB writes:

   “When his mind moves entirely and wholly into the One Infinite Presence, and when it settles permanently there, the divided existence of glimpse and darkness, of Spirit and matter, of Overself and ego, of heaven and earth, will vanish. The crossing over to a unified existence will happen” (18a)

   - but his soul will also continue in higher dimensions of this realization.

   Anadi speaks of this as a transcendental evolution within and of the Whole, which begins only after the Soul realizes itself and its inherence in the universal I AM. [In the following excerpt, from Enlightenment Beyond Traditions, "Me" refers to the Soul; in other of Anadi's books "Me" is the first expression or extension of the Soul. And where he uses the words "Creator" and "Creation", a causal relationship is not implied, thus the non-duality view is maintained. A little imagination is required here]:

   "Me is that which allows us to experience the I AM. The I AM which one experiences is not Me - it is that which created Me. One can never become the Creator. It is true that Self-realization is a state of complete Oneness with the universal I AM, but Me which experiences this Oneness is not this I AM. Me can disidentify with the whole universe, but it is notable to identify with its Creator. The Self-realized Me rests upon the Ultimate Subjectivity and experiences it through itself. Me cannot become the Ultimate, no matter how deeply it is awakened to the dimension of Pure rest and Wholeness. Why? For the simple reason that Me always,regardless of the State it is in,feels itself...It is possible to call the Creation an illusion, the Creator - emptiness, and the Soul - non-existent. This would be the shortest way to the impersonal. Seemingly, the impersonal is reached by the impersonal and dissolves into the impersonal. This is the ideal of Non-duality. But in truth, to meet the impersonal face to face, the personal must be there to face it. Here, the ultimate duality serves its supreme purpose, and Me rests in full acceptance of its supreme "dual" existence and truth."

   "Non-duality, without the awakening to me, represents the Wholeness of Perception in which Me refuses to see itself as a dynamic and alive center of identity behind the Perceived. When Me is awakened to itself for the first time, the new and true Non-dual vision of reality is apperceived. In this apperception, the Wholeness embraces its very experiencer, the unique Soul, the intimate heart of Me, as itself. This Me is an indivisable part of the Ultimate Seeing. The Non-dual Perception is not the end of Seeing. The evolution into the Seeing of Reality does not have an end. And this evolution can take place only through the Me, the mysterious perceiver of the Universal I AM. This Perceiver is not separated from the Wholeness. It is the part of the Totality through which the Now becomes the Seen."

   Much as we dislike writers who liberally capitalize words to give them a special meaning, these passages seem to resonate with our understanding of PB's thought and revelations.

   Atman and Brahman are One - but not the same: an attempt at clarification

   The claim that “Atman and Brahman are One” is a stumbling block in the debate between advaitic schools and those that posit the reality of a Soul. It is even imbedded in some of the Upanishads, where the two in fact are often confused. Many advaitists claim that through inquiry one realizes the truth of Atman or Brahman, the terms seemingly used interchangeably as if it really didnt matter. Yet we suggest that this can have a large impact on how one visualizes and actualizes the nature of both the path and reality. Why, one may rightly ask, have two words if there is not a distinction? While it is in one sense true to say that Atman is not the same as Brahman, in yet another sense, of course, nothing is different from Brahman. The way we would like to articulate it, however, begins by asserting that Atman is the essence of, and beyond, the five koshas, and is the first level of self-nature that has as its foundation a direct realization of its identity with Brahman. On a path of inversion or ‘ascension’, Atman would be on the fifth plane (i.e., Sach Khand in Sant Mat). Yet as all planes intepenetrate, it can said to be the reality of the subjective essence of all planes or modes of the individuated being. Atman is still ‘individualized’ - PB calls it Overself (‘individual but impersonal’) while anadi calls it Soul (‘individual impersonality’) - but it is a type of individuality that realizes all is Brahman (that which includes both individual and universal impersonality and its manifestation, and is ‘techincally’ beyond even this classification). Brahman is the totality, and 'an Atman' is an individual locus of Nondual/Brahman realization. So looked at from one point of view, they are the same, and from another, they are different. Thus those schools that speak of Self-realization and God-realization are not incorrect. Yet, the God-Realization part has many depths.

   Distinguishing between the Nondual Ground or Reality, and nondual realization itself

   In the interest of utmost clarity we continue to distinguish between the 'nondual reality', which is the absolute, the ground, Nirguna Brahman, Emptiness - on the one hand, and 'nondual realization', on the other. [This is discussed separately in "The True Nature of Non-Dual Realization” on this website]. Nondual realization takes place with in relativity. It is the arising within relativity as a state of realization that directly perceives the nondual ground, and realizes the implications of this nondual realization in relationship to relativity. The nondual ground itself transcends both nondual realization ( Nirvana) and the illusion of dualism (samsara). Nirvana and samsara both arise within relativity, and the nondual ground transcends them both. The state of nondual realization, by directly perceiving the nondual ground, subsequently realizes all relative phenomena as having the same nature as the nondual ground.

   Further, and more directly, we may say that nondual realization is the realization that there is no relativity to get out of - it all always was the nondual ground, and we simply did not realize it. Whether we buy into dualism or not, it is 'still all the Tao'. Relativity is that 'aspect' of nondual ground that experiences the apparent dualistic story of falling into ignorance and awakening. Talking about it all from a more relative point of view, we can say that there is such a story, and, of course, we certainly feel the suffering and want to awaken. Viewed from the point of view of nondual realization, we recognize the appearance of the relative points of view of dualism, and even the primary dualism of absolute and relative, but at the same time we realize the great paradox that it is and always was nondual. We cannot say that the nondual ground has no realization, or has realization - it radically transcends these categories. At the same time it is the complete and total nature of everything we call part of the relative universe.

   PB says that the sage "works for the World-Idea", meaning that his basic identity as an ‘individual’ presence is universalized, while he also knows his Soul and 'where it comes from'. The higher principle of the Soul is the Intellectual principle or Nous or World-Mind, which projects the World-Idea, which takes many forms as it comes down into sensibility (unmanifest in Nirvikalpa, formless in the archtypal realms, and sensible as our world). This World-Idea is projected through each Soul, and paradoxically,  the Soul projects an emanant of itself into that same World-Idea which is within it in order to have a world in which to experience, purportedly to come to self-recognition and to serve universal evolution. This also has in fact parallels in many traditions.

   But paradoxical - or ‘lucidly mysterious’ - because nondual realization is the realization that there is no relativity to get out of - it all always was the non dual ground, and we simply did not realize it. Whether we buy into dualism or not, it is 'still all the Tao'. Relativity is that 'aspect' of nondual ground that experiences the apparent dualistic story of falling into ignorance and awakening. Talking about it all from a more relative point of view, we can say that there is such a story, and, of course, we certainly feel the suffering and want to awaken. Viewed from the point of view of nondual realization, we recognize the appearance of the relative points of view of dualism, and even the primary dualism of absolute and relative, but at the same time we realize the great paradox that it is and always was nondual. We cannot say that the nondual ground has no realization, or has realization - it radically transcends these categories. At the same time it is the complete and total nature of everything we call part of the relative universe.

   **From this we can see that in truth the soul and the self, samsara and nirvana, are indistinguishable from the higher point of view. This difficulty may be why PB himself seemed to alternate so much between talking of a ‘higher individuality’ and a reality ‘beyond individuality’, or that one can only know the World-Mind but forever be Soul, versus a final perpetual realization of Mind-in-itself, with all the confusion that may have engendered for his readers. The truth, it seems, is more subtle and complex than often portrayed. We suggest that his para about ‘full realization lasting throughout the three states’ is a description of man in fully grown union with his soul, as turiya, and not the Universal ground or Universal I AM of ‘turiyatita’, described as such by anadi, which would only include the latter, not displace it. [And, admittedly, all hopelessly indequate concepts]. This is a deep subject, barely discussed or elaborated in all its aspects in the long dharmic history of humanity. anadi touches upon it, at times equite exquisitely, and we will return to some of his teachings in a moment.

   The Need for an Intermediary (continued)

   The main point in the preceding discussion was that there is a 'way', a bridge, a something, help, for sentient between samsara and nirvana, like "No one comes to the Father but through the Son," as Jesus is to have said. We realize that this might not be too popular a notion with many non-dual adherents. However, we feel that in general most do not usually just jump to  Nirguna Brahman in one shot through simple inquiry as some imply.  This 'intermediary' means many things, therefore, but not any 'thing'. It means virtues like wisdom, contentment, acceptance, equanimity, discipline, love, generosity, purity, faith, trust, and so on. Sri Nisargadatta spoke of ‘earnestness’ as the most important quality, the ‘homing instinct’. It also represents invisible spiritual help, which may be more a factor for some than any particular form of practice. As anadi states:

   "We should not forget that often awakening is brought by the power of grace. In many traditions, students are supported from the esoteric dimension. That's why, even when one is doing the practice without having the full understanding but one is sincere and genuine - transformation simply does take place...Grace is the ultimate source of awakening." (19)

   Thus, for some even the most humble gesture or form of practice may be sufficient for a conclusion that may have already essentially been determined prior to this birth.

   It also represents that form of spiritual understanding, capacity and virtue that is accessible to each person according to their style and stage. This could mean remembrance of the Master, not only his form, but actions, speech, and presence. It might be thought of as one’s ”chosen ideal” as Ramakrishna used to advise. This is part of the importance or meaning of the graduated path, or what is called the path of initiation, not as a way of putting distance between people and the goal, but as a natural recognition of the various stages people naturally go through, and the most effective teachings and practices of each stage according to what is accessible and most meaningful and practical, just like the graded stages of being in school. We don’t teach calculus in kindergarden, but we do recognize the occasional prodigy!

     The first step in contacting the Cosmic Christ is developing Christ qualities in ourselves, such as love, peace and wisdom. This paves the way for eventual contact with the Cosmic Christ. Developing mindfulness in daily life, for instance, is a path to the Cosmic Christ. But to try to directly have a ‘personal’ relationship to the Cosmic Christ is more advanced. In the stages accessible to most people, we focus more on developing our inner Christ (through knowing the microcosm, we know the macrocosm). But if we want to take a direct route to cultivating this relationship to the Cosmic Logos or Christ, we can do a practice like Shabd, for instance, but it will either not be accessible to most people for now, or it will just sound like ‘noise’! Because we do not have the realization yet. But it can be a path to developing that realization. But since we don’t have it, knowing God-conscious individuals can also be part of the bridge. The master personalizes the Logos to the individual until they have the realization of direct relationship. Direct realization of the Cosmic Christ is, therefore, a pretty advanced stage of Christ-consciousness, as various foundation stages need to be develop first before true realization of the Universal Christ can unfold. So unfolding the Christ-consciousness is the path to liberation or awakening, but direct realization of the Cosmic Christ in a profound and personal way is an advanced stage of that, and isn’t even necessarily something that the outer personality may be aware of as a part of their path. But opening to other, less universal expressions of the Christ Principle (like virtue and intuitive wisdom) is, necessarily, part of that awakening that eventual leads to true nondual perception.

   A similar thing might be said of Advaita. If a person finds himself saying, "If I repeat 'Who Am I?' one more time I think I will puke, then he is obviously not ready, ripe enough, qualified or suited for self-inquiry as his sole practice! This is a reality one must face. And a good teacher will know if such is the case, and suggest other approaches for that individual.

   The practical difference being pointed to between the two perspectives is that between 'making it real' , and 'just realizing it'. A recent blog post in response to a quote by PB, about the need for perfecting or maturing the ego before being able to truly transcend it, reflects a misunderstanding of this principle. A person objected to PB, saying that such work was a waste of time: "why try to perfect something like the ego that is just an 'illusory symbol for reality' - for everything is already Perfection?" To this response Anthony Damiani would likely have said that this individual probably hasn't even truly understood or encountered his ego yet, what to speak of calling it illusory. Such a person most likely has no kids and still kicks the cat from time to time!

   In contrast, Suzuki Roshi said, "everything is already perfect - but it can be more perfect." This is kind of like the true alchemists who believed in perfecting what is already existing, the 'work of the ages' transmuting base metals to gold, even though this realization may  not be the ultimate. Nowadays many feel there is no need for any of that, because of a new paradigm, whose influence is a product of a few years - a blip in the milllions of years of human evolution - no need anymore for saints or siddhas who glow from  knowing the innermost and outermost reaches of the Light, just realize Brahman right away, anyone can easily do it. Besides, 'Hermeticism and the ancient mystery schools were only products of ancient forms of spirituality when they believed in a 'fall' and that man needed to return to the heavens above', but now we know so much better about nonduality, and that even to imagine such lofty matters as Isvara or the Cosmic Christ or Adi Buddha means that we must be beyond it already, and therefore there  is no person, no soul, no time, no history or evolution, and no enlightenment, only one consciousness, so why do anything? Therefore, just turn up your volume and enjoy the wisdom of Cream !

   One of the potential basic flaws in this kind of reasoning is that such a statement also applies then to any type of discussion about, or path to, awakening. All 'paths' and discussions are inherently dualistic - so even using terms like 'illusory' or 'Perfection' is more dualism. So taking this kind of thinking to its logical conclusion, people who adhere to this view should stop talking about any kind of spirituality or awakening as all such discussion is trying to awaken from something that never happened in the first place - i.e., there is no ignorance, illusion, or anything, so why talk of these things if it is all and always has been inherently Perfect, right?' It iseems to be an internally inconsistent position.

   There is a recurring them in many spiritual teachings. It is one in which the spiritual path is conceived of in two main parts - what we might call the soul stage (defined as the middle principle or intuitive/virtue level or aspect, and the transcendental stage. In the first stage we grow in relative wisdom and virtue, regardless of how we go about it and what we think we are doing. In this stage people will have little regular access to transcendental states (nondual realization, samadhi, Deity/Cosmic Christ). Instead, it is a stage of character development, transforming karma, etc. So simply put, we move from ordinary ego to soul to spirit. Or from gross dualism to subtle, wholesome, enlightened dualism to transcendental consciousness. And unless you have done lots of work in past lives (like Ramana), you cannot jump over the middle stage. These two stages were called in various teachings:

   Sant Mat - Self-Knowledge vs. God-Knowledge (here fits in the quote 'it is hard to become a human being, but easy to know God'); Daskalos - Self-Knowledge vs. Theosis; Alice Bailey (theosophy) - Soul/Personality Fusion vs. Monadic Realization or Spirit.

   This reflects the traditional classification of ‘three’ realms or domains. For instance, according to the Pythagoreans, there is the Supreme World, the Superior World, and the Inferior World. The Supreme World is not a world, per se, but the One, and which contains and seamlessly interpenetrates the the other two. The Superior World is the realm of soul or higher psyche, as well as divine archtypes, sometimes called the ‘solar world’. And the Inferior World is everything from the Demiurge on down, which would include the three lower worlds of Hinduism such as physical, astral, and mental. Similarly, in Hermeticism there are the Spiritual World, Intellectual/Soul World, and the Material World. This could be seen as corresponding to the Atmic, Buddhic, and physical/astral/mental of theosophy. In these classifications, the ‘middle or intermediary world is the domain of the Christ - the ‘mediator’ - who represents the personification of the higher intellectual/soul nature of man. In Vedanta one will remember that the faculty of Buddhi is closest to Atman, and when purified reveals Atman. Just so, in Hermeticism, Mercury is closest to the Sun, and as Hermes when ignited reveals the Sun.

   In most cases where a teacher/teaching tries to suggest that one can ignore the development of good character qualities and just 'jump' to transcendent realization, they invariably fall back into talking about this process by using terminology that mostly falls more properly into the soul or middle stage, not the nondual. So they talk big talk about higher realization, but when when looks closely at how the talk about how one is supposed to do that, if there is anything truly practical in what they have to say other than 'just do it', then we ultimately find them using terms like being 'spacious', having 'choiceless awareness', being 'nonjudgmental', or 'silence', or a host of other terms and qualities that, precisely speaking, cannot be the pure state of nondual realization simply because you cannot name or qualify that, so if you are talking about it - that isn't it! And especially if you are going to use words like peace, love, acceptance, and so on, then you are squarely within the 'bridging' realm.

   PB did this repeatedly, but not claiming to be doing otherwise:

   ”He learns to look away from the ego and turn to the Overself. He keeps his thoughts as often as possible on the remembrance of the latter's infinite ever-presence. He keeps his heart occupied with the feelings of peace, faith, harmony, and freedom that this remembrance generates.” (20)

   So those who talk like this often not only simply fail to recognize the reality of the nature of what they are really talking about, and the necessity for that, but then also invariably do an inadequate job at that because they are so concerned at negating that level and denying that that is in fact what they are doing. Nothing is to be negated (not body, mind, soul, inquiry, devotion, etc.), and what works for one will not work for another. There are surely more direct perspectives than that suggested by PB here. Like 'recognizing' what is happening, 'seeing through' the ego or separate self, and so on. One can either call it a higher stage or a more direct approach. The words do not matter so much.

   Actually, come to think of it, Ramana did not really talk much like this at all. It seems that at times he did have a leaning that way ("just Be who you are"), but nonetheless, often affirmed the relative value in many practices as methods of quieting the mind and developing concentration and equanimity. Even Self-Inquiry was a practice that he view as a process of gradually peeling away false identifications, purifying vasanas/karma, and eventually leading to realization. He did not say 'just get it'. Also, Self-Inquiry is a practice that explicitly expresses qualities like investigation and practice, and more implicitly requires awareness, concentration, discipline and even qualities like having some 'faith' the the practice will result in realization. He also equated the practice with other qualities like surrender. Moreover, he himself allegedly never did self-inquiry, or actually required anyone else to do it, but allowed for many practices as necessary depending on the individual presenting themselves before him. So while perhaps not categorized as being super-rich on the intermediate/soul aspect of the path, it was certainly there, and honored much more than some of these others who align themselves with him.  Even Sri Nisargadatta, in I AM THAT, spoke a lot of how hard sadhana really is, how necessary it even was 'for survival as a spiritual entity', and that, also, for some people even chanting or puja  was a sufficient practise; but, for good or bad, the editor put in enough ‘all I did was believe my guru and watch the I AM for three years, and nothing was wrong anymore’ and ‘there is nothing but the Absolute beyond consciousness’ comments in there that many people have gotten the impression that he said to do nothing else or that there was nothing to do.

   Still, PB did often enough speaks of the higher point of view:

   “Only for the sage is the truth always present, no matter whether he is with others, whether he is working, or whether he is in trance, and this truth is continuous awareness of one Reality alone and one Self alone.”(21)

   The question remains if this refers to the sage in full union with himself as the nondual Soul, or something even more basic/transcendant, i.e., realization of a ‘One’ or ‘Universal I Am’ as both PB and anadi suggest is possible. Anadi uses mediating words such as, ‘now the soul knows herself in a new, transcendental way, through her own absence, not her presence..and such is her primordial identity - in the Universal I Am.’

   Even closer to the most common way PB seems to talk of the Overself is this explanation of the soul by Anadi:

   “The soul is another name for our true self, the heart of our individual existence. Unlike the personality, the soul exists independently of the mind; she is by nature free of the incessant fluctuations of our mental and emotional states. She is made from the radiance of consciousness and pure intelligence and, in her essence, is in a timeless state of unity with universal being and love. She exists to serve the never-ending evolution of light and understanding as she expands towards the fathomless depth and mystery of the god state. Although individual and unique, the soul remains eternally one with the impersonal movement of universal intelligence — she is a single angle of perception through which the beloved beholds the consciousness of creation."

   "The awakening of the soul is the most significant step in our evolution towards the realization of oneness, wholeness and completion. Prior to her awakening, the soul finds herself imprisoned in the plane of lower intelligence and exists merely as her personality. She is limited to her ego, locked in the subconscious reality of the mind. The light of her presence has been lost in the shadow cast by her human self. To awaken her true nature, the soul must transcend her forgetfulness and realize her essence of I am. Through the vehicle of me, she gives birth to her ancient identity of pure subjectivity and actualizes her divine individuality at last.”

   Videha-mukti, or Jivanmukti? Ego remains, or ego goes?

   Here, we still are at the edge of deep mystery. PB writes:

   "The authentic thing does not enter consciousness. You do not know that it has transpired. You discover it is already here only by looking back at what you were and contrasting it with what you now are; or when others recognize it in you and draw attention to it; or when a situation arises which throws up your real status." (22)

   Sri Nisargadatta said something similar, that 'such cases are often the most reliable'. What they meant, it seems, is simply that insight does not enter consciousness in the same way an ordinary experience or a vision does, as it is what you are, 'the man himself', and often this glimpse takes one unawares and needs pointing out. Then it becomes more recognizable. It is not quite as mystifying as this quote makes it seem, i.e., if you don't know it had transpired, then how would you know it? Obviously you know it, or what good would it be? But it is a primal knowing,a direct knowing, not the usual subject-object kind of knowing. PB continues:

   "In the highest level there are utterly unalterable truths. They are not got by logic, worked out by intellect, or discovered by observation. They are announced. No one can know their mysterious source in the sense that we know anything else. It is unique, indescribable, and hence unnameable, unimaginable...It is more honest to let the Mystery of Mysteries remain as it is than to repeat ancient portrayals or create new ones..." (23)

   Shri Atmananda similarly said:

   “The ego never sees the light, though he always uses light. The Sage sees that light alone (the most vital part) in every perception. No human being has ever reached the Ultimate.” (24)

   These two quotes are a little more advanced. "No being has ever reached the Ultimate." Certainly this has been disputed by Buddhism and Advaita. And the language is inadequate, because the Ultimate, beyond time and space, is not 'reached' per se. But once again, however, what did PB say? We again find contraries; at times, criticizing theosophy, he said that man can know the Absolute, and not only the Logos (a bit of a simplification of the theosophical position), but at other times he said man can know only the 'fringe' of the Absolute, the 'mysterious aura' emanating from it:

   "Let us not deceive ourselves and dishonour the Supreme Being by thinking that we know anything at all about IT. We know nothing. The intellect may formulate conceptions, the intuition may give glimpses, but these are our human reactions to IT. Even the sage, who has attained a harmony with his Overself, has found only the godlike within himself. Yes, it is certainly the Light, but it is so for him, for the human being. He still stands as much outside the divine Mystery as everyone else. The difference is that whereas they stand in darkness he stands in this Light." (24a)

   "We cannot know it as it is but only can know that the creative God could not have been there if IT had not been there first." (24aa)

   "If it be true that even no adept has ever seen the mysterious absolute, it is also true that he has seen the way it manifests its presence through something intimately emanated from it. If the nameless formless Void from which all things spring up and into which they go back is a world so subtle that it is not really intellectually understandable and so mysterious that it is not even mystically experienceable, we may however experience the strange atmosphere emanating from it, the unearthly aura signifying its hidden presence." (24aaa)

   It was to this quote that Anthony Damiani referred to in saying that the sage in union with his divine Soul or Overself could then know that God is. Or, in the language of Plotinus, that a sage in union with his divine Soul could then know the Intellectual Principle, or, "let us say, the principles that were eternally generating it," because the soul's self-awareness always includes a recognition of its source.

   So we are not much closer to our quest for a resolution, are we? Again we find that PB may have been as articulate as his understanding had taken him, or that, had he had a computer and internet access, he might have clarified his position further. What seems likely is that he felt one could have the higher glimpse of the Soul's source while in contemplation, but that in ordinary life one would revert to being the non-dual Soul. This is consonant with other teachings and traditions. He said:

   "The moment he emerges from the void, he regains his individuality. For with this he has to live and move in this lower world. But it is not the personal ego which is regained. That is dead already. It is his soul." (24b)

   This sounds like one can have a higher glimpse, yet the very language here speaks to the lower aspect of the Soul as the 'double-knower', which with its non-dual eye simultaneously abiding in emptiness while also on the manifest world. It does not directly clarify whether one can perpetually dwell in the 'Absolute', known in the deepest contemplation, while alive in the ordinary sense.

   And, as far as the ego upon realization is concerned, there are two positions (at least!). For PB the ego is dead, as in the above quote, and then again it is not. He writes, basically agreeing with Ramakrishna, that the ego in fact is not totally dead shy of the grave:

   "At every point of his progress the ego still functions - except in deep, thought-free contemplation, when it is suppressed - but it becomes by well-defined stages a better and finer character, more and more in harmony with the Overself. But total relinquishment of the ego can happen only with total relinquishment of the body, that is, at death." (24c)

   Anthony Damiani, in his book, Standing in Your Own Way (p. 227), says that here PB is disagreeing with the Vedantins' concept of liberation in life, or jivan-mukti. He makes the important point that this concept has been argued about for thousands of years, which should tell us something: to wit, that jivan-mukti has several ways of being described. In fact, Vedantins in the Ramakrishna Order maintain that one can essentially, and in fact usually, be a jivanmukti, free of binding karma, yet only attain absorption in the 'absolute' at intervals during life, and forever (in some cases) after death. Even Ramakrishna himself saw the need for two standpoints. He felt that one needed at least 3 % ego to function in the body.

   However, in the case of Ramakrishna (as in the quote above from PB about the ego being dead, and the man returning from the void back into his soul), it has been said that the sage did not see the world the way most of us do, that when even a little I-consciousness returned it was for him the universal I:

   "The I-consciousness of the Master sometimes vanished altogether and sometimes just a little. Even when that little of I-consciousness returned, the universe did not appear to him as it appears to us. The world appeared as an "immense mind" in which innumerable waves of ideas were rising, surging and merging...He saw that an infinite number of waves of ideas was rising in that cosmic mind; that the limited I-s of men perceived these waves of ideas in parts and mistook them as the external world and its various objects...He also saw that the limited I-s had their being in, and performed their works with, the strength of that unlimited I...Again, when a little of I-consciousness manifested in him, he saw both the Saguna immense-I and all the ideas in it, united with the Nirguna aspect of the divine Mother. In other words, as soon as he attained the Nirguna state, the existence of the difference-in-itself in that "One without a second" vanished from the Master's consciousness. And when he was conscious of that Saguna immense I-ness, he felt that that which was then Sakti was verily that Brahman. Saguna was indeed that which Nirguna was." (25)

   Which is to say in plain English that, for Ramakrishna, although Nirguna was not a perpetual condition but depended on trance absorption, his identification with the One was so strong that even when I-consciousness in its universal nature arose, it and any small I or ego that remained was over-shadowed by the higher realization. He said that the 'unripe I' vanished, but the 'universal I' remained. And PB seems to be saying the same, in different language:

   "The differences between human beings still remain after illumination. The variations which make each one a unique specimen and the individual that he is, still continue to exist. But the Oneness behind human beings powerfully counterbalances." (reference misplaced)

   [A note: while these notions of 'universal I' and so on are not altogether false, it is easy to get the impression from some of this type of reading that one needs to 'transcend' something, or become something 'big', when almost the opposite is the case! A gentle reminder to inquire, 'who is the one who thinks he or she needs to do that'?, is on order to set us back on the right course].

   The answer to the question of the ego is really simple. Sometimes PB and other writers use the word to refer to the human personality, and at other times to egoism itself. The human personality is more complex, while the ego is more of a function. Anadi gives a clue when he says that the ego remains after realization, on the periphery of consciousness, as a function, although identification with it as a self-referrent is gone. Gross egoism pretty much dies, or is attenuated, but the ego as the human personality and a self-referencing tool of relative existence remains, and is only seen as a hindrance by schools that see nirvikalpa samadhi as the summit of non-dualistic realization (of which the Ramakrishna Order has generally been one). However, we now know, based on other teachers and teachings that have come to public attention, that that is not the case, i.e., that in sahaj samadhi, or simply sahaj, nothing need be negated or is a problem. All states are seen as arising in awareness, with no separation. PB came to this conclusion late in life, but the Notebooks do not always fully reflect this understanding.

   That one abides most of the time as the non-dual Soul and not the 'Absolute' (however that is defined, which varies), is also the position of some other schools. Sant Mat, for instance, teaches liberation - on the path of inversion - in Sat Lok, with the free Soul then receding by three degrees or stages into the Absolute, called Anami or the Nameless One. Yet it does not stay there, unless the saint or sage decides to merge forever into IT, but one returns and is Soul, in life or after death. And further, comes to recognize all in a non-dual fashion. This was also Damiani's interpretation of the position of Soul in the teaching of Plotinus: one gets a higher glimpse, yet returns to abide in union with his divine Soul. [Which is plenty non-dual, and happy enough!]. Bottom line, it has been said that it is extremely difficult, and very advanced, so to speak, for a Soul to integrate, or 'bring down', the higher realization into its various vehicles. One has to be a master to understand it, and a master to do it, and very few can fully do so. And one must remember that, for PB, Soul is 'no-thing', it is 'empty', 'no-separate-self', and 'non-dual'. How then could one conceive of anything higher? Yet scriptures seem to hint at it, although for Advaita it is a non-starter. Perhaps they are right. This is merely submitted for consideration.

   Dear reader, once again we hope that this exegesis serves at the very least as a purgation of a ton of philosophy and drives him inwards, or backwards, into himself. That is certainly the most pressing issue at hand, and one can worry about the 'more' later. But if the genie is out of the bottle, answers must be obtained as far as possible, if only to set the search to rest. And questions, like all desires, must be fulfilled, in some form. So they are not bad. But for now, we are reminded that the end of the egoic search is really the beginning of a truer life. On that most likely all can agree.

   Two Contrasting Models: Descent and Ascent

   Further we have to come to terms with another strange quote of PB’s, "for all its yearning and aspirations the ego does not want the final ascension." Why did he use such terms in the Notebooks, after arguing for years, like Ramana, that one did not need to "ascend"? Indeed, his realizations while with Ramana and afterwards were spoken of as heart-based, with the only ‘ascended experiences written about being of his early life and a night in the Great Pyramid in the book A Search in Secret Egypt. PB frequently goes between speaking of 'realization here and now', saying (again to paraphrase), “if one knows the truth of mentalism (in short, nondualism) he will know why we do not have to rise to the heights that the saints have achieved” and yet also taking about 'being with God as higher creatures', and a 'never-ending spiral to higher spheres'. Being as astute as he was, this can not be a mere accident. And indeed, we argue such ascent is 'beyond' that implied by the subtle physical chakra system, such as in traditional kundalini yoga, but rather a form of 'radical ascent' once the nondual ground is realized. This gets into teachings of reflected levels of existence, higher octaves of realization. We can say little on such an esoteric topic at this point.

   But let us talk a bit more on this, however. We believe that PB was indeed a 'bridge between East and West', as Connie Fung pointed out, but in more ways than one possibly imagines. His frequent use of contrary language reflects his apparent dissatisfaction with, or equal preference for, the distinct yet exclusive models posed by either Buddhism or Christianity. For instance, Buddhism often proposes that the Buddha-nature is inherently virtuous, luminous and free, and only our obscurations need to be removed to reveal it. There is no talk of soul or Holy Spirit, despite the Buddha's own words in the Alagadupama Sutra that he NEVER SAID there was no such thing as a soul, only that it was indefinable. In Christianity, however, we hear things like the pure heart, the heart emptied of all things, shall be filled with God or the Holy Spirit. In the present moment, when not resisted, there is found not only 'what is', which is 'all there is', but quantum levels of spirituality that are penetrated. Read the words of deCaussade:

   "You are convinced that you do nothing, that you merit nothing; and thus you are sunk in your nothingness. Oh! how well off you are! because from the moment you are convinced of your own nothingness you become united to God Who is all in all. Oh! what a treasure you have found in your nothingness! It is a state that you must necessarily pass through before God can fill your soul; for our souls must be emptied of all created things before they can be filled with the Holy Spirit of God." (Spiritual Counsels, Book Six, Letter XXIII)

   PB wrote that at some stage the "Overself will completely overtake him; it will make a mystical union with his own body." He also said that "the descent of grace comes at the appropriate hour." Note, he now speaks of a descent. This is quite similar to how some Christian mystics have spoken, such as St Seraphim or Sarov:

   "One should gather the mind into the heart, which will then be warmed by the grace of the Lord when the Spirit of God descends to man and overshadows him with the fullness of His outpouring."

   In essence, for any descent of divine light and force (shakti) into a human vehicle, that vehicle must be prepared to hold that light or force. This implies a serious metanoia or purgation or cleansing of egoic tendencies. This may manifest in different ways, and in different orders. One apparently need not rise the kundalini first. The essence of that can be achieved in other ways, such as the 'Path of Fire' spoken of by Sufi teacher Irena Tweedie's master, Bhai Sahib (see her biography, Chasm of Fire).

   In the mystic path of Sant Mat they talk of ego-annihilation leading to the manifestation of the Word of God, in the heart of the disciple, although generally first - but not exclusively - in a more 'ascending' context, even as divine grace descends. It is the soul that communes with the Holy Spirit, however, and not the ego, which more reductionistic Buddhist-Advaitic views sometimes dogmatically argue is the case, being instead considered 'only more experience by a separate self', and the Holy Spirit merely a last veil of Maya rather than Liberator. No doubt at the highest level the two paths come together, but the view of an intermediary enlightening presence within relativity is more often than not denied validity by advaita. This is an impoverished view, in our opinion, that unnecessarily and unjustifiably simplifies the full nature of things, and which seems to be something that PB was at pains to articulate in a more balanced way.

   The point is, there are different ways of looking at things. Sant Kirpal Singh used to say, tapping his heart, "the Master resides here." He also exclaimed, "God is nothing!" and reminded us that "what you see is you." And finally, pointing to his forehead, "higher Self is God." Taken as a whole that seems to cover most of the bases. Similarly, Black Elk of the Lakota spoke of three aspects of God:

   "We should understand well that all things are the work of the Great Spirit. We should know that He is within all things...and even more important we should understand that He is above all things and people." (Michael and Judith Fitzgerald, Indian Spirit, p. 63)

   Sri Aurobindo interestingly wrote, whether he was correct or not, that while in prison he experienced "nirvana in Brahman" long before he had knowledge of the overhead planes:

   "The first result was a series of tremendously powerful experiences and radical changes of consciousness which I had never intended..and which were quite contrary to my own ideas, for they made me see with a stupendous intensity the world as a cinematographic play of vacant forms in the impersonal universality of the Absolute Brahman...In the enormous spaces of the self, the body now seemed only a wandering shell. It threw me into a condition above and without thought, unstained by any mental or vital movement; there was no ego, no real world - only when one looked through the immobile senses, something perceived or bore upon its sheer silence a world of empty forms, materialised shadows without true substance. There was no One or many even, only just absolutely That featureless, relationless, sheer, indescribable, unthinkable, absolute, yet supremely real and solely real. This was no mental abstraction - it was positive, the only positive reality - although not a spatial physical world, pervading, occupying or rather flooding and drowning this semblance of a physical world, leaving no room or space for any reality but itself, allowing nothing else to seem at all actual, positive or substantial...What this experience brought me was an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom." (Sri Aurobindo on Himself,1972,p. 127-132)

   However, this 'Nirvikalpa' experience was soon to expand and reveal a grander dimension to reveal itself to him:

   "I lived in that Nirvana day and night before it began to admit other things into itself or modify itself at all...In the end it began to disappear into a greater Super-consciousness from above...The aspect of an illusionary world gave place to one in which illusion is only a small surface phenomenon with an immense Divine Reality behind it, and a supreme Divine Reality above it, and an intense Divine reality in the heart of everything [similar language to that of Black Elk] that had seemed at first only a cinematic shape or shadow. And this was no re-imprisonment in the senses, no diminution or fall from supreme experience, it came rather as a constant heightening and widening of the Truth...Nirvana in my liberated consciousness turned out to be the beginning of my realization, a first step towards the complete thing, not the sole true attainment possible or even a culminating finale...Nirvana can not be at once the ending of the Path with nothing beyond to explore...it is the end of the lower Path through the lower Nature and the beginning of the Higher Evolution." (Aurobindo, On Yoga II, Tome One, 1969, p. 154, 71)

   So again we find the themes of ascent, descent, and also transcendance.

   For Dzogchen the ‘meditation’ on the nondual view’ is said to result in the divinization of the body via either the Rainbow Body or the Great Transfer. Adriano Clemente, translator of a text by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, writes:

   "The rainbow body ['ja' lus] is the transmutation of the physical constituents of the body into the essence of the five elements of which it is composed: the five lights. Thus an immaterial body, invisible to the physical eye, continues to exist, actively working for the benefit of all sentient beings....Higher than this accomplishment is the "great transference into the rainbow body" ('ja lkus 'pho ba chen mo), in which the yogin achieves the rainbow body while still alive, without undergoing the process of death." (25a)

   For the Tamil Siddhas, the descent of the Light achieves soruba samadhi, which has several stages or degrees: Suddha deham or ‘Perfect Body’, free of ego, compassionate, and emitting a golden hue; pranava deham or ‘Body of Grace, where the body can be seen but not touched, appearing as a child of about five years of age, and automatically possessed of all the yogic siddhis; Ramana Maharshi apparently manifested a version of this pranava body on several occasions, even to the extent of dissolving further towards the Gnana deham or ‘Body of Wisdom, where one’s body becomes omnipresent but invisible, absorbed into the Divine completely:

   "On several occasions Sri Bhagavan had had an unusual experience in which his body would disappear in a flash and disperse into its component atoms. A little later a smoke-like form would appear and the atoms would come together in a form that resembled particles of mist. Finally, the body would reappear in its normal form. Sri Bhagavan used to have this experience whenever he remained in the same position for a long time or when his body got emaciated because he was not taking enough food. This state, in which the body disintegrates into atoms and merges with the five elements, is known as 'pranava body'." (25b)

   One may rightly ask, is all of this necessary for realization? Perhaps not, but it happens and so it is accounted for. It is not, in these cases, a mere incidental accompaniment of the realization, however, but, it is suggested, an integral manifestation of the 'Life' and 'Power' aspects of it; one 'engaging' both Isvara and Brahman, or Soul/World-Mind and Mind, if that makes sense. Incidentally, all three representatives of the competing schools of Vedanta: Sankara, Madhva, and Ramanuja, were accomplished siddhas who are said to have left this world, body and all, by this very method of de-manifestation. Paramhansa Yogananda said that Lahiri Mahasay was told by the immortal siddha Babaji that it was the latter, not Govindapada, who was the true spiritual or deeksha guru of Sankara, with the former merely being his siksha or instructor. In the Skanda Purana it is said that Sankara was told by akashvani or inner voice to restore the holy temple at Badrinath, Babaji’s main residence, by searching in the Alaknanda river for an image of Vishnu, after which he would accomplish by such deed what he had been searching for through meditation. And it is said that shortly afterwards he had attained the realization or Divine Light he was after. So much for him being a dry vedantin! One must remember that Sankara (as well as Ramakrishna) was also a great bhakti and tantric, who taught that propitiation of Isvara/Mother Maya, or what might be viewed as the 'Siva-Shakti' manifestation of nondual Brahman, was the 'Liberating Intermediary Presence' that one goes through on the path. [Note: theosophist Leadbeater said that it was also Babaji, and not Nagarjuna, who was the one with the name associated with the word “naga” that the Buddha had predicted would rediscover, reform, and preserve his teaching eight hundred years after his death. Babaji was named Nagaraj, born 203 A.D....Even so, Nagarjuna himself was also a great tantric Siddha, besides becoming known as the promoter of the Buddhist doctrine of Emptiness. Incidentally, he was also predicted by the Buddha to be reborn in a Pure Land].

   Ramana, and many of his followers, thought that the usual yogic ascended path was no longer necessary, that as soon as foundational equanimity was achieved, one could bypass the sahasrar and planes above, and pass horizontally via a terminal bend of the central spinal channel, the sushumna nadi, allowing consciousness or the feeling of being to descend into the heart, whereupon there was the establishment of the 'amrita nadi', the heart and its ascended light, as the 'bodily organ of enlightenment.' And it might even be simpler than that: just "be who you are", he once confessed, "why wander in that maze?". Still, once one is established and has attained sahaj, fully integrated and complete, a 'radical ascent' is said to be possible, if only perhaps after death. This is hard to speak of in spatial or human terms. PB called it an 'ever-spiralling ascent to higher spheres'. This is for the already liberated. No wonder we can not understand it. One might follow theosophical terminology and call it 'higher octaves' of realization beyond the microcosm. And needless to say, this is not something for us to worry about, or strive to attain, any time soon. In point of fact, that will probably only stand in the way of what may be neither necessary nor inevitable.

   Some some essential questions to be asked at this point are how to explain with traditional Advaita, PB's mentalism, or general Buddhist emptiness teachings: (1) actual multiple simultaneous incarnations of realized beings (2) the soruba samadhi of the Siddhas (3) the rainbow body/Great Transfer of Dzogchen (said to be not the product of siddhi, but the fruit of non-dual realization, i.e., how, when, and why does it happen? What is the relationship of these to the function of the Overself, the World-Mind, and the forces of Nature? (4) the "Pure Land" emanations of great Buddhas, and (5) the great power of a realized Sant by his mere regard of withdrawing the souls of hundreds of beings from their bodies at one time, or that of raising the dead - for surely these are powers beyond those enunciated by Patanjali.

   Some thoughts on incarnation and enlightenment

   Anadi speaks of realization as awakening and stabilisation of the state of presence, or consciousness, then awakening of the soul, and then transcendance by the soul of herself in the Universal presence, while continuing to exist and function eternally. Anthony Damiani, PB's student, suggests likewise:

   "...if the Absolute can grant the eternal gift of Being to the Soul, Soul in turn will manifest eternally. As authentic essence the Soul includes a principle of manifestation, and to claim that Soul is reabsorbed when it achieves recognition of its true Being is to deny its status as an authentic essence capable of engendering perpetually a reflex of itself. Consequently, self-realization does not necessarily entail the cessation of its manifestation. The Buddha or a sage will continue to reappear periodically, for it is in the very nature of Soul to be represented by an ego. It is the very nature of Soul as an authentic essence to be a metaphysical wanderer in the infinitude of God's Being." (25c)

   Anadi writes similarly on reasons for incarnation and non-incarnation:

   "The reason why one does not have to incarnate is not merely enlightenment. That which makes you let go of this dimension is your completion and fulfilment...It is all on the soul's level; your soul decides, not your mind."

   "So when you do not incarnate anymore and you are fully complete with this dimension, 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 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."

    [This is similar to PB's comment about "sahaj not being the highest state, only the highest attainable by man"]. Anadi continues:

   "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. You still evolve but not as an individual. Your intelligence merges with the universal space of intelligence. It is similar to when you sit in meditation and merge into the space of I Am; in that dimension, there is no point of reference but you still exist. Universal consciousness exists in this way. There is no-one there, there is no entity; but there is movement of Intelligence, movement of understanding, movement of love." (26)

   Finally, PB makes a very firm and important statement about the concept of illusion or maya and the enlightened state:

   “He must not let the Ashtavakra Samhita be misunderstood. It does not preach mystic idleness and indifference. The world is there for both sage and student, and both must work and serve - the difference being mental only. Illusionism is not the doctrine except as an intermediate stage towards truth, which is higher. One must participate in God's work by assisting evolution and redeeming the world, not squat idly in peace alone.” (Vol. 13, Part 1, 1.57)

   Perhaps some answers

   What then can we say for sure? Well, it is safe to say that PB believed that true realization was not only an understanding or insight, but both that and a total transformation:

   “The whole psyche of man must get into this task of self-spiritualization. Feeling alone cannot do it, will alone cannot do it, thinking alone cannot do it, and intuiting alone cannot do it. Every element must contribute to it and be shaped by it.” (27)

   “Since the whole of the human entity has to be developed and not merely a part of it, there is no possible way of skipping the unfinished development and leaping to the goal at a single bound. Those who offer shortcuts deceive themselves.” (28)

   "The longer the road, the loftier the attainment, and only those who take the time and trouble to traverse the whole length of the way may expect to gain all the fruit. He who stops part of the way may only expect to gain part of the result." (29)

   The issue of stages is a contentious one, but not really for the higher teachings and spiritual lineages. Our view is that while we may not necessarily speak of a linear process, given each one’s different background from previous lives, there is no bypassing of anything either. The literature is full of stories of those who have advanced experiences, even for prolonged periods, but who, undeveloped in the earlier stages, had to go back to finish their quest. It just cannot be done in one go. Many who aspire for a breakthrough have had a ‘breakdown’ by trying to storm the gates of heaven, meditating ten hours a day or whatever, when they lacked basic human maturity. PB further writes about why those who have attained a high stage of inner expansion, even Nirvikalpa samadhi or its equivalent, which in some teachings is considered a nondual realization, albeit exclusive of the world, must return here to fully realize and understand what they have realized:

   "When the mystic comes to the end of this phase of his career but believes he has come to the end of his career itself, he falls under an illusion from which it is hard to recover....Hence, one of the texts belonging to this teaching, the Lankavatara Sutra, says of those who have perfected themselves in yoga: "When they have reached the eighth degree they become so drunk with the bliss of inner peace that they do not grasp that they are still in the sphere of separateness and that the insight into reality is not yet perfect"....There is a fourfold evolution in humanity and it unfolds successively - physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Hence the mystic has to return to rebirth to complete his evolution despite his "union" which is consequently temporary...The attainment of this deep state of oneness in meditation by an ordinary mystic may seem to be the end of the quest. Nevertheless the cycle of reincarnation will not end for him until he has become a philosophical mystic. For even though all earthly desires have been given a quietus, there will remain a latent desire to know, to understand his own experience and the world experience. To satisfy this desire, which will slowly come to the surface under the compulsion of Nature, he will have to develop intelligence to the proper degree...For nature is shepherding the human race not only along the road of spiritual evolution but also of intellectual evolution....Giving up the world does not lead to reality, but it leads to peace of mind. Men who lack intelligence...must take to mysticism and yoga, but only the mature and developed mind can enter the quest of enquiry into truth. This means therefore that pupils are not generally initiated into this enquiry by gurus prematurely. They must first have developed their egos and their minds to a high degree, and only after that should they be taught to renounce what has been fostered with so much pain. This is evolution: although truth is ideally attainable here and now, technically it is attainable only at the end of the pageant of evolution, when the whole man has been highly developed and is ripe to receive the greatest of all gifts." (30)

   On this point the reader is directed to two articles on this website, "The Depths of This Thing", and "Not A One-Shot", for examples such as the traditional four stages outlined by the Buddha and their equivalents in other schools, as reasons why multiple lifetimes are generally required to complete the path out of the samsaric condition, whether or not one has gained significant nondual insight in this one or not. PB put the nature of the ordeal of the early stages this way:

   "The sugar cane yields its sweet juice only after it has been crushed relentlessly in a mill. The human entity yields its noblest traits and truest wisdom only after it has been crushed repeatedly in the mill of anguish." (31)

   "The depth to be penetrated from the surface to the deepest layers of the human psyche is too great to be reached quickly without acute sacrifice and intense anguish. " (32)

   Brief Note on Long/Short Paths, and How All Roads Lead to Rome: The Trinity Philosophically Conceived

   PB gave many paragraphs devoted to pointing out a direct path of identification with the Overself, once basic preparation had been reached. The short path depended on the long path, which would be followed only so long as required by any individual. [For more detail, please see "The Long and Short of It" on this website]. A typical example of transitioning to the short path, as contrasted with traditional yoga paths that assume a separation between the seeker and the sought, is the following:

   “This notion that we must wait and wait while we slowly progress out of enslavement into liberation, out of ignorance into knowledge, out of the present limitations into a future union with the Divine, is only true if we let it be so. But we need not. We can shift our identification from the ego to the Overself in our habitual thinking, in our daily reactions and attitudes, in our response to events and the world. We have thought our way into this unsatisfactory state; we can unthink our way out of it. By incessantly remembering what we really are, here and now at this very moment, we set ourselves free. Why wait for what already is?” (Vol. 15, Part 1, 1.1)

   A casual reading may give the impression that this is a radical short-cut, but one must remember that PB always said that both the long and short paths were in the imagination, and that for most people they were to be practiced concurrently for a long time before resorting only to the 'short path; moreover, the short path was not necessarily short - only shorter. So in this quote, while it states we need not merely wait 'while we slowly progress out of ignorance', what may be missed is that, one, on the so-called long paths a person is not merely waiting, and two, it is also true we still will wait 'while we work on changing our habitual thoughts, reactions, and attitudes,' for this is a process that takes time. Yes, the moment to moment change grants renewed glimpses of truth, but, as PB elsewhere says, this may take years - even lifetimes. Just try to change, especially ones deep-seated habitual emotional reactions. These habits weren't created in a few years, or even the present lifetime only, but rather, it is said, over eons of time, and to think they will be eradicated or trancended in a few years is fairly idealistic. First the habits must be seen, before they can be released. And that is likely to put the average person through a blast furnace. See how long it takes for one to maintain equanimity under all conditions, and when one starts metaphorical, or literally, 'kicking the cat', even after years of sadhana or frequent periods of insight! As it is written, it doesn't take much stress or maya to make one forget God.

   Another way of looking at the notion of long versus short path, and which I think PB had in mind also, is that of the Overself taking over and squeezing the ego, and doing for you what you can't do for yourself. To me that is a form of the short path. The Overself not only puts you on the short path of a more streamlined direct practice, but runs the show from the inside and out, and you don't have much say a lot of the time but to go along with it. The same can happen with the strong arm of a satguru. The "short" end game has begun. On the way, some  get a lot of glimpses, or things may develop under the surface with little remarkable showing until the final result. This could very well be a few lifetimes - to us that is short, given an uncalculable numbers of lifetimes already passed or possible in the future. Once begun or volunteered for, chunks of old karma come up to be paid back/gotten rid of, or transmuted/tantricized, or spontaneously liberated, as per one's capacity. So many permutations and combinations there are. PB was good in that he had so many gems in his writings, including a lot of short path things that weren't included in his specific short path descriptions. Like "no experience goes too far until it makes one feel like a dying man," and "the sugar cane yields its best fruit when it is crushed in the mill," or "beware what you pray for."  To me that is all short path, not just preparation for it. The usual long path person, as described, can't handle that. And we are not, nor was PB, saying it has to work that way in any given life. But, on the other hand it can. "The stronger the practice, the stronger the demons," the Tibetans say.

   So, such a method suggested above presupposes that we have had a glimpse already, an ‘introduction to the view’, as they say on Dzogchen, and adequate preparation (hence the ‘long path’) in order for this self-remembering to be not ‘memory’ per se, but the constant return of an effortless intuitive regard of what was revealed in the glimpse. Furthermore, this is not to say this (philosophical or gyan yoga approach) is the only way to realize truth. Bhakti or love for God is another. Bhakti, along with discrimination between the real and the unreal, is better yet. The sage Narada, author of the famous Bhakti Sutras, prayed that he never bedeluded by maya, for he who us deluded by maya forgets God. Krishna said, "those who are devoted to me I will give the knowledge by which they will come to me." So any choice is a matter of temperament most of all. And how bewitching maya can be. When one leasts expects it he can be relatively crushed in a moment. Thus Ramakrishna said in this age bhakti is the most efficient path for the majority of people, and with the least danger of being overcome with pride. He said that knowledge and liberation is easy to attain, but God does not easily grant pure love. Remember, PB said, “I’m not that advanced; I don’t love everybody” ? So, besides gyan, true bhakti also leads to nonduality. In fact, all paths, whether they start as ‘Siva” or consciousness paths, or ‘Shakti’ or energy paths, end in nonduality. This, then, is an example of the Trinity: the Nondual Reality, and Siva-Shakti, Purusha-Prakriti, Consciousness-Energy, or Christ-Logos-Holy Spirit. Let us explain.

   All Relativity manifests as appearances of dualism. Even the enlightened state can be experienced from different angles, both at a personal and universal level. In essence we can say that enlightened Beingness has two aspects (which are one), consciousness and energy. Consciousness takes the form in our experience as wisdom, awareness, realization, insight, etc.. It is the Shiva aspect of our nature. In Daskalos’s cosmology it is the Christ Logos. Then there is the energy aspect. Shiva is the ‘observer’, Shakti is the observed. Shakti is dynamic, moving, phenomenal, vibratory, and so on. In the nondual state of presense, these two aspects of our nature are recognized as interdependent, inseparable, and empty. So that is the Trinity, or a Trinity, from one essential nondual perspective. When viewed on a macrocosmic level, enlightened Shakti is the Holy Spirit, the great enlightened Super Intelligence that ensouls form, phenomena, or nature. On a universal level, then, this aspect (which is, again, interdependent from Shiva/Logos) is Shakti or MahaShakti. On the individual level, this energy has many forms: visual, auditory, tactile, etc., and is known variously as Holy Spirit, shakti, nada, or kundalini. And when the individual is ‘asleep’, unenlightened, then this energy is sometimes said to be asleep at the base of the spine. When we awaken, looked at from a consciousness angle, we have realizations, insights, understandings, changes of perspective. But looked at from a body point of view, an enlightened energy that services to purify, transform and heal the bodies is awakened and works in various ways in the bodies. But the two things are the same process, dualistically perceived by our less enlightened self as bodily/energetic or consciousness/realization. In nondual realization they merge into the same thing. They are not different. And one can experience one more than the other, but only in the early and middle stages. Later they are intuitively realized as one. Ultimately, as kundalini/shakti is the ‘energy of enlightenment’, it can be awakened through any chakra, and it also can work in ways that don’t appear to be related to channels, chakras at all. Doing path like vipassana, for instance, may emphasize awareness over energy, so one is much less likely to have as much classic symptoms of kundalini as those doing breathing exercises, for example. But they may, nonetheless, and especially as a vipassana meditator gets more advanced, they inevitably will. But it may never be recognized as such. That is not necessarily in their categories of understanding. So it is not like it is some unique and special phenomena reserved for those following certain paths. It is a part of all spiritual awakening. But certainly those who emphasis it will experience a magnification and richer version than the average person who does not emphasize working with it on their path. But that of course does not mean such a path is better than a more siva/consciousness-oriented one.

   The same basic reasoning can be applied to the general dichotomy of devotional and knowledge oriented paths. One need not necessarily be considered as superior or leading to the other. Much depends on the purity of intention in any individual case. This will also account for the difference in understanding and meaning gleaned from what appear to be identical experiences. But one can see on this model of a Trinity that 'consciousness' may not be too glibly aserted as 'all there is' as contemporary as well as traditional teachings often assert. 'Consciousness', too, is a concept that is dropped when Nonduality is truly realized/actualized. [This important idea is further developed in "The Mirror Analogy" in the appendix to the article "The Primordial Ground: Part One" on this website].

   The Story of the Fifth and Sixth Patriarchs

   Thus, the time factor is necessary. One way of looking at this is by reviewing the famous epsiode in the life of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen, Hui-neng. The Fifth Patriarch, in deciding who would be his successor, wrote a phrase on the monastery well, to the effect, “the mind is like a mirror bright upon which dust collects; be careful to polish it regularly.” The young soon-to-be Sixth Patriarch won the master’s staff when he secretly wrote at night, “the mind is not a mirror-bright, there is no dust and nothing on which it to collect it.” The latter statement was recognized as the ultimate Truth by the Fifth Patriarch, and is grabbed onto by some as confirming a belief that there is nothing to do to effect their liberation other than to contemplate such words. Yet the paradox of practice is that, while that is the truth, in order to recognize it in a deep way, one must first practice according to the words of the Fifth Patriarch! The reason being that we all have our ‘stopping points’, or our ‘razor’s edge’, wherein we will stop short of letting go of our fixed views and ego-centric clutching. Practice means to be with whatever arises while also living a life of basic virtue, which will reveal our flaws and ancient habit-patterns so we can truly release them and allow grace to work upon us. We do not eactly ‘polish the mirror’, per se, by doing a lot of fancy inner manuevering, but face reality and allow it to ‘do us in’. It is a practice, however, which we by tendency will choose to run away from at some point, until true completion. Thus the stages.

   In this light we can see the flaw in the following reasoning, recently posted by one respected Buddhist practitioner:

   “I just got word that someone I knew took his own life recently, someone who had a very clear nondual understanding. Many years ago, I remember hearing of a Zen teacher who committed suicide. His students found him hanging. What a teaching! Many people imagine that “enlightenment” (whatever that might be) means you wouldn’t do something like that – you wouldn’t kill yourself, you wouldn’t be depressed, you wouldn’t have financial problems or health problems or personal problems or problems of any kind—you wouldn’t need Zoloft—and if you were terminally ill, you wouldn’t want the morphine—you’d want to be clear and alert and “fully present” at the moment of your death (presumably so that you could get a good start on a successful new incarnation of your self – ho ho ho)...”

   Leaving aside the contradiction in presuming to give a fresh perspective on enlightenment, while saying “enlightenment - whatever that is”, this quote gives the impression that we just do not understand the enlightened condition, that it has nothing to do with the world of relativity, and virtually ‘anything goes’ for the enlightened person. Further, we are what we are, genetically, physically, emotionally, mentally, solely by the 'luck of the draw', or Nature, or Fate. Of course, nobody is perfect, that is agreed - but that is also not the point, nor is it a criteria for establishing the nature of the enlightened condition. The same writer goes on to say that "all of the best teachers I have known could be clear as a bell one day, and 'overwhelmed by depression' the next." Overwhelmed? Maybe a good teacher could be, but even then, it would be, one would think, more like a passing cloud, not an 'overwhelm'. If liberation means anything according to the best sources available to us, this is not possible for anyone after stage two (once-returner'). Nearly all emotional and mental karmas are eradicated or burned through by that stage and such dramatic and unpredictable oscillations are not possible; rather, the basic disposition in the person's blood is a solid faith and high valuation of the preciousness of the human incarnation. If such tendencies or obscurations are still there then something has been bypassed or unfulfilled. If one is inclined to intense depression, bad health, compromised faculties, etc., one must accept this as a result of past karmas. It is not just 'the luck of the draw', which in Buddhism would be considered the 'wrong view' of 'nihilism', or disbelief or regard for the law of action. After the third stage ('non-returner') all such karma is gone, and after stage four ('Arhat') belief in ego is also eradicated and true non-duality of Buddhahood is near. We suggest, then, to the contrary, that such a view of enlightenment as the above is much too limited and one-dimensional, and comes close to, as Patrul Rinpoche writes in Word of My Perfect Teacher, "using the Dharma language of the highest views to scorn the principle of cause and effect," which means to "use the teaching of the absolute truth as a pretext for saying that there is no difference between good or bad, samsara and nirvana, or Buddhas and ordinary beings." (p. 129) This can only lead to the error of pride and conceit. Padmasambhava in this context said, "My 'view' is higher than the sky, but my attention to my actions and their affects is finer than flour." Therefore we say that, with rare exceptions and for exceptional reasons, that the truly enlightened person or one with a ‘very clear nondual understanding' - and not just an intellectual one - would never commit suicide, and certainly not compulsively for emotional reasons. This is not a judgement. We are saying, however, that any 'Zen master' who would hang himself may have been as enlightened or awakened as he could be, as we all are, but was not transformed to the degree necessary to withstand the ‘avalanche of residual karmas associated with his karmic stream manifested as his present body-mind complex’. We also say that many awakenings, and even much nondual understanding may be in place before its penetration to the depths of all of one’s bodies or vehicles, koshas, planes, elements, etc., is complete, resulting in what could be called the positive nondual rebirth, peace, bliss, and eternal virtue of the Nirvanic condition. According to the Tibetan teachings, there needs to be not only the purification of dualistic obscurations to nondual realization, but also the accumulation of merit and wisdom as support for the latter. A total transformation and not only an understanding or even realization of 'emptiness' is required. And, as Rinpoche quotes from the sutras, "Until one has completed the two sacred accumulations, One will never realize the sacred emptiness." (Ibid, p. 283) "Sacred" in this instance means not only emptiness, which may be rather dry, so to speak, but "emptiness-clarity-compassion", the full fruit of the realized condition. This is not necessarily automatically achieved by technique or understanding alone, but simultaneously through the growth in merit and relative wisdom as well. In this way when one does realize the 'emptiness' of self and phenomena, he will not be inclined to dwell there, but as a result of the habit of bodhicitta or unlimited compassion for all beings cultivated and accumulated over time, he will achieve or actualize the Great Perfection, or full non-dual realization. This is to say, the Great Perfection is not only the primordial unity of emptiness-awareness, emptiness-clarity, emptiness-luminosity, or emptiness-appearances, but all four of these and bodhicitta or compassion. And in this case compassion is not a mere nicety or byproduct of emptiness, but almost an 'ontological' component of reality itself. Thus the words and actions of a person or teacher are truly effective if they spring from both 'silence' and 'love', or emptiness and bodhicitta. To summarize St. Paul from 1st Corinthians chapter 13, "Thou I speak with the words of angels they are but clanging gongs and crashing cymbals without love."

   This is not to say there are not higher points of view, with the previous ones sublated as one's understanding is increased. Patrul Rinpoche certainly acknowledges this, quoting Master Chegyom:

   "To believe in the effects of actions is the right view for those with ordinary faculties. To realize all inner and outer phenomena is the union both of appearance and emptiness, and of awareness and emptiness, is the right view for those of higher faculties. To realize that the view, the one who holds it and realization itself are indivisable [i.e., without intrinsic reality, a 'magical display' of awareness, empty and naturally radiant] is the right view for those of the highest faculties...To be as wary about the effects of actions as one is careful to protect one's eyes is the right action for those of ordinary faculties. To act while experiencing everything as a dream and an illusion is the right action for those of higher faculties. Total non-action [i.e., beyond conceptualizing, realizing that the actor, the action and the object acted upon are all without intrinsic reality] is the right action for those of the highest faculties."

   However, he wisely points out that:

   "The progressive diminution of ego-clinging, negative emotions, and thoughts is the sign of "warmth" [i.e., effective practice] for all practitioners, be they of ordinary, higher or the highest faculties." (Ibid, p. 260)

   This means that the notion that enlightenment is completely unrelated to the realm of relativity is simply a wrong view, and that comments uttered by modern 'sages', such as "son-of-a-bitch before enlightenment, son-of-a-bitch after enlightenment," or "you may awaken into a state of hell," are not indicative of true realization! The essence of the lower qualities or faculties are retained in the higher, and not simply negated; therefore, the sage is not a brute or a fool, or else he is not a sage. It is a sign of a dark age that one even has to discuss this point.

   There are, as noted, what might be called 'special cases' wherein a sage has committed suicide - but not for urgent emotional reasons. Socrates drank poison Hemlock when he could have escaped his fate merely by professing allegiance to the state, rather than set a moral example for the youth of Athens. This can not be called suicide. Similarly, knowing the time of his death had come, a famous Tibetan Lama, Alak Zenkar Thupten Nyima Rinpoche (1881-1943), took a poisoned cup from an enemy, saying, "This cup is for me. I must drink it by myself...I was offered poison by the same person for the third time. This time I took it, for the time of my death has also arrived." He asked everyone present not to harm the person by any means, and passed away amidst miraculous signs. (32b) It has been said that the same happened to the great Milarepa: a jealous monk had him poisoned, and he knew of it but used it as a teaching demonstration, with rainbows and all. This also would not be considered life-negative or inauspicious, but rather a conscious action by one in tune with the universal will.

   Once again, there is an important emphasis in the traditional Buddhist and Dzogchen view on the difference between wisdom/realization and merit, and the necessity to cultivate both as two facets of spiritual development - the accumulation of positive karma, virtue, and relative wisdom on the one hand, and the cultivation of nondual realization on the other. The two are not unrelated, and to think they are not is to fail to embrace the fact that relative wisdom and knowledge can enhance our ability to serve awakening in the relative universe; this omission contributes to some of the over-simplistic tendencies of the neo-Advaita movement in the west today. To some extent one might even say Ramana was responsible for this with his leanings towards emptiness and view of the tattvas, elements, etc., as simply 'rubbish to be thrown away'. There is a profound esoteric interrelationship between the seven elements, seven 'rays', seven planes, seven chakras, seven (or nine) 'initiations', and many other correlations, that has a bearing on the depths of realization.

   Progression to Nondual Realization and Beyond

   Here is just a suggestion of how this might work out. On ‘inversion paths’, such as Sant Mat, theosophy, or kriya yoga - keeping in mind that nondual insight may be present at any plane - or any stage, as this is not necesarily a linear process, in this or any one lifetime - one would first transcend the ‘lower triad’, or the physical, astral or emotional, and mental bodies: inter alia, the ‘three worlds’. Then one would, rising higher, pass into the ‘higher triad’, or atma-buddhi-manas, or in Sant Mat terms, formless or ‘spiritual’ planes consisting of vijnananomaya and anandamaya koshas, or planes (with sub-stages) known as Daswan Dwar, the void of Maha Sunn, and Bhanwar Gupta. At this point one has made a passage that can be considered the equivalent of the ‘Great Death’ in Zen, leading subsequently to a total rebirth into the direct nondual reality in Sach Khand, or Sat Lok - considered on this path as the ‘first stage of God-realization’. This is actually both a plane and a realization; it is carried outward and downward also. Stages ‘beyond Atman’ realized in Sach Khand are termed variously as Alakh, Agam, and Anami (i.e., Nirguna). In theosophy they refer to this passage from the higher individuality or upper triad (the ‘higher part of the soul’ in Christian mysticism) to the first nondual plane as the ‘breaking of the buddhic lotus in the causal body’, freeing the ‘jewel in the lotus’ to merge or be absorbed into the Atman - which they call the Monad or Spirit. We know further that this must then be integrated downward through all the planes, although it happens to a degree effortlessly once attainment in Sach Khand is reached.

   However, we also know that attainment may be had on ‘non-inversion’ paths, such as Dzogchen, Vipassanna, Zen (shikantaza), Vedanta, etc.. The reason behind this is that nonduality is the essence of all the planes, all of which interpenetrate and can be realized, transformed, and transcended ‘in place’. But it is an ordeal in stages nevertheless. Stages may not appear in a linear way, but they may not essentially be bypassed either. For instance, it is entirely possible (using the famous Ten Oxherding pictures in Zen) for one to be at number 8 or 9 one day, and 2 or 3 the next! This oscillation may occur many times until maturity and stability is reached.

   What is the result? That has been the topic of this paper. Let’s call it nondual real-ization or actualization. Is it individual or universal, personal or impersonal? Such words no longer apply; suffice it to say there are Mysteries here. As PB wrote:

   "In the highest level there are utterly unalterable truths. They are not got by logic, worked out by intellect, or discovered by observation. They are announced. No one can know their mysterious source in the sense that we know anything else. It is unique, indescribable, and hence unnameable, unimaginable...It is more honest to let the Mystery of Mysteries remain as it is than to repeat ancient portrayals or create new ones..."

   In many traditions there are spoken of further transcendental stages beyond initial nondual liberation, as alluded to by Anadi and PB. As mentioned, in Sant Mat there are Alakh, Agam, and Anami (referring to by words such as the ‘unknowable, inaccessible, the nameless’); in the sapta-jnana-bhumika system as mentioned in the Varaha Upanishad as well as the Yog-Vashista, there are ‘seven stages of wisdom.’ Stage four is jivanmukti - liberation - with three stages ‘beyond’ this. In Buddhism, as mentioned, after the enlightened Arhat stage there are supposedly Bodhisattva and Buddha stages. They speak of at least ‘four liberated realms’ beyond the so-called six realms of samsaric transmigration [which six realms include the 'god' realms - sometimes interpreted psychologically as a realm of 'pleasure', while at other times metaphysically as being both realms of pure form and formless]. All of these liberated realms constitute Nirvanic existence, which apparently is not just one big ‘soup’. In theosophy, likewise, they speak of ‘higher octaves’, such that of the basic seven planes of existence, the human ‘atmic plane’ becomes the first ‘cosmic etheric plane’. These are said to represent different possibilites of liberated spiritual evolution.

   On a more accessible level we have the confession of Zen master Bankei, who confessed that thirty years after his great life-changing satori realizations, nothing in essence had changed, yet the difference from then to now made 'all the difference between Heaven and Earth.' Similar remarks were made by Hakuin who had many breakthroughs before being ‘utterly smashed’ by his masters. The difference was that there was no longer any reaction in the body-mind instrument, and their nondual realization was complete. No way they were going to commit suicide. Would the Buddha commit suicide? Maybe in one of his many, many past incarnations before he was fully a Buddha, when even then he confessed that he was long ‘free of the conceit of a separate self.’ Philosophically it may be considered possible, but practically speaking, it is not likely. This seems to be another example of teachers with recovering addictions (of whom there are a surprisingly high number) having some type of awakening, and, seeing their karmic limitations, making high philosophy of non-doership to justify them, instead of accepting their situation, without blame, while striving to improve where possible. This concept will be discussed in a future article

   Cosmogeny, Cosmology and Non-Duality

   PB wrote:

   "[One] reason for the need of the Long Path's preparatory work is that the mind, nerves, emotions, and body of the man shall be gradually made capable of sustaining the influx of the Solar force, or Spirit-Energy." (33)

   "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." (34)

   He also put forth a question:

   "Most Short Path teachings lack a cosmogony. They evade the fact that God is, and must be, present on the plane of manifestation and expressing through the entire universe. Why?" (35)

   These quotes, especially the last, are quite interesting. Why do so many non-dual teachers make it seem as if all there is to realize is that 'there is 'no one' and 'every-thing is consciousness'? Must we face a great divide between such awakening to non-duality as the truth - and all apparently gradual paths as delusion? We have already expressed some thoughts on this matter, but a bit more needs to be said. The topic is inexhaustible! Seems, for instance, that you can't truly know what happens after death, or when one leaves the body, until the one who would leave the body has already 'died' or is seen to be no-thing. This basically means the transcendence of dualistic perception. Otherwise the situation inside will be somewhat just like watching color TV. In this vein Ramana once remarked, "one who truly understands merges with the world." Kirpal Singh said "the way to solve the mystery of life is by dissolving yourself into it." Others have said that, from the position of the Heart, "you do not enter worlds, you become them." So it is accepted that notions of time and space and going someplace are relevant only within relativity. But is insight into this enough and all there is to the path? Relativity has many depths that apparently must be respected. Perhaps the question comes down to, "if one realizes 'emptiness' (no-self) and 'oneness' (all is consciousness) while in the body, will one abide directly in that realization after death?" PB says it is a possibility. Some nondualists say, 'who' cares? - there is 'no one', while others think, 'yes, you will'. We think: it depends! Tulku Thondup relates a story (in Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth) about Do Khyentse Rinpoche (1800-1866) who went on a meditative journey onto the bardos. He was said to be a realized master at the time. [We suppose that, given the nature of this story, one could doubt whether he was actually realized]. Yet he needed to have some female deities on a subtle plane 'purify him of his worldly taints' so he could advance further within, and even after that  he 'fainted into unconsciousness' upon seeing a wrathful cosmic vision of Padmasambhava! He revived and was then given empowerments to help him spread teachings when he returned to the world, as well as being reminded of the emptiness of all things. So it may be the case that some nondualists may be surprised at what happens. Is there more to realization so that it will last through the bardos, make them irrelevant, or avoidable altogether? This relates to the complexity of relativity and the individuality of the nature of the path, of realization and the way to it.

   Further, "who cares?" We care!

   Many people are waking up, but many also have tried desperately to realize what some teachers are saying are failing to get it - partly because, in some cases, 'direct pointing' is inadequately done, or is done by those with less realization of nondual enlightenment than is presumed, or it is done at an inappropriate stage of development or as the whole of the path. We are not saying it is of no value, but rather, and more importantly, people are sometimes asked to jump too far too fast. There are many intermediate steps that, were these to be understand and included, they would be helping more folks much more effectively. But then, different teachers have different roles to play, and people find what they are looking for by and large, so no one is to blame for anything.

   In our view enlightenment can be considered a 'middle path'. It is a road (not a fixed state) down the path of balance, integration and realization of the interdependence of polarities. It integrates all these into a perfect nondual wholeness that does not negate either, but rather reveals their mutual interdependence with each other. There is a beautiful Zen saying that 'enlightenment is the integration of 10,000 points of view'. What meaning does infinity have without finiteness, universality without specificity, form and formless, individuality and sameness, manifest and unmanifest, eternal and temporal. To us, enlightenment is not a static condition that we realize or become absorbed or abstracted into. It is an endless unfoldment of realization of interdependence, with new, richer, vaster integrations emerging all the time. So enlightenment does not 'leave' samsara and enter nirvana, as if these are realms to go to. It is a middle path between nirvana and samsara. During delusion, we separate the two and experience a mayaic story of separation from something, and aloneness. At liberation we enter an enlightened state of 'nirvana', yet, in its nondual nature, does not separate us from being present to samsara, and to those who participate in dualism. Our individuality continues to exist, but now realized in a way that transcends the experience of us as being separate, and yet carries within us the essence of compassionate understanding of those still experiencing that state, the state of misunderstanding that is separation. In one aspect of our nature, we are liberated, free, enlightened. In another inseparable aspect we are present to relativity, to time, individuality, stories, planes, elements, bodies. But our point of view of all that is fundamentally changed. It is as if we looked at it all from the outside looking in, now we see it from the inside out. We see it all from the point of view of interdependence, wholeness and truth, not from confusion, separation and suffering. But, again, this realization is not static, it continues to unfold along a middle path, expanding into and integrating polarities, staying balanced by the light of nondual understanding, so not falling back into separation and suffering, yet compassionately being present to suffering, and being part of a Cosmic Presence of countless being who have realized enlightenment and form a single, realized, interdependent wholeness where every being and facet of this Cosmic Presence, containing countless individualities, yet also as one reality, remains fully present to every aspect of samsara, liberating Cosmic Samsara into itself by the power of its nondual realization. It is the macrocosmic equivalent of a master realizing the rainbow body. The Cosmic Christ is eternally extending itself into samsara, absorbing it into nondual nirvana, just as a master integrates the body into him or herself. So nirvana does not take us away from samsara, nor do we need travel to a higher world to realize it. It is understandable why many traditions see it this way, but it is not the deepest understanding of what is 'really' happening.

   Are there higher worlds? Of course there are. How real are they? No less real than everything we experience in this world. If consciousness is defined as what we are, and awareness as an aspect of the mind only, we could say that there is a larger "objective" realm of existence than that of which the mind or ego is unaware, and knowable only by heart-consciousness. If we can talk of a story of traveling to India and spending time with a master like Kirpal or Ramana, that story is part of the relative universe, and so is a 'relative truth'. But that is very real at the level at which we experience 'us'. We don't have the right to neglect that level of 'substance' and story until we have perfected mastering it - can we travel with thought, materialize and dematerialize at will, etc.. If not, then the laws and limitations of the physical realm, not to mention the inner realms, are very real to us and it is simply ungrounded heady philosophizing to glibly talk about that 'none of that matters', 'it is not real', and all that. That is not a very mature actualization of nondual understanding. Mature enlightenment does not deny, neglect, reject or disrespect relativity and relative truths. Enlightenment illuminates them, revealing ever deeper and more whole ways of understanding them so that can be liberated from dualism while remaining fully functional within them. A deeply enlightened master can open a door or walk through it, whichever is more useful to that which they serve. And if you are trying to lead someone out of a labryrinth, one must honor where they are at in the maze and not just say 'be outside of it all!' You must honor the maze and show them the way, along with shortcuts and encouragement and inspiration, including faith that one can 'get out' and what it's like and how to get there as fast as possible! But you still have to acknowledge the maze. And the more you honor the maze, and see it more and more clearly from a nondual perspective, the more you actually understand the whole terrain, and can better help people to liberation. Once you get almost out you can begin to realize that every place in the maze was actually 'there', but the nature of being deep in the maze is that it is impossible to realize that at that stage. So a sequence of other insights is necessary first. And those can be unfolded in many, many ways, and the relative story that goes along with that unfoldment can therefore take many forms. And it is all relatively real, including all the journeys to higher planes. It's all good. It is a perfectly valid way. But no one way, no teaching, yet expresses all the possible insights that one can have along the way, all the possible styles of awakening, and so every path will have certain power for certain people, but not be ideal for others. This is the value of a global, integral spirituality - it has the power to cause each person to feel that they are understood, and to empower them on a path that they can do and that works for them. Right now we still have much dualism on our planet in the spiritual paths in the form of various paths and teachers thinking their's is the only or best way.

   One more aspect: the moment of death and after. Whatever level of enlightenment one has attained in the body not only will be carried over after death, but will often 'go up' a notch. That is because a veil has been released, and so the incarnate individual will be more able to realize deeper understanding. This is at the heart of why the Tibetans encourage people to utilize the moment of death as an opportunity. One reason to be aware of this is that many people, when they die, bring over with them the beliefs of the physical world (such as believing they need to eat, for instance, or that they must travel by traversing a distance by walking or whatever). But if you know all about the differences in the planes, or at least something, you will be more likely to rapidly awaken to the greater freedom and understanding that is natural to that realm. So if a person is one big veil removed from sahaja samadhi, for instance, don't bring that over with you when you leave your body! When you drop the veil, know that a door has opened to immediate access to a whole next level of realization and embrace it. If you do not, it will still come eventually as the effects on your consciousness of having been in a body wear off. But why wait! So the moment of death (often after a brief swoon) is a door that can be used to open to a satori where we see through all the veils, at least for a moment. Why not use the moment as an initiatory, awakening moment, even if we are not advanced enough to enter right into sahaja after death, we can at least have an awakening moment, and then transition into a higher level of freedom. Anyway, sooner or later, the after death state is always a more conscious one on the astral than we were in the physical because we have dropped a veil. But if physical karma remains, we must go back eventually and learn those lessons. So if we had sahaja on the astral as a result of dying when we left the physical, we will probably loose it for a time again when we reincarnate. But if we entered sahaja at the moment of death (but did not have it before that), and then we continued our development on the astral and completed our astral karma, then when/if we return to a body we could, if it was our dharma, have or easily regain sahaja - like folks like Ramana.

   The multifactorial picture of realization

   PB writes:

   "There are three things man needs to know to be a spiritually educated man: the truth about himself, his world, and his God." (36)

   'Himself' here, in contemporary terms, would be the realization of the emptiness of the ego, or what is referred to as 'no-self'; the second would be what goes under the name of 'oneness', or the realization that the world is a mental fabrication and thus, essentially, 'consciousness'. The third would be fully-grown union with one's Overself or I Am Principle, including recognition of a higher Power. This last factor is a profound component of Relativity, which is not usually attained by a glimpse or a few years of stabilisation in awareness, nor is it often recognized or actualized in many students or teachers of non-duality. What are we to make of the many 'dualistic' teachings, such as Sant Mat, Sufism, and so on, that, while acknowledging the truth of an ultimate position, also maintain that there is a Power controlling all of "Creation", as well as us in the body, and that when that ceases to do so, we die? What is our relationship to that Power, and it to us? Plotinus says that all Power flows from the One. We are rooted in that One. Is this then simply a dualistic illusion to be seen through, or an inherent aspect of a non-dual reality? There appear to be persuasive arguments on both sides. Ultimately notions of being controller or controlled are transcended in paradox. But it is our task now to be part of an emerging integration of the simple truths held up by direct teachings, with other, sometimes more subtle, gradual, multi-stage, dualism-embracing/honoring aspects of the progressive stage models. In our opinion, this type of wisdom is still being worked out. No one has figured out a profound, advanced, integral, nondual version of this yet on the physical plane of this planet or is teaching it openly in the world. But it is beginning.

   A brief word is in order on the issue of the 'drop and the ocean'. Fred Davis states in Beyond Recovery, a nice attempt to bridge 12-step work with nonduality, that "the difference between the relative surrender of a drop apparently surrendering to the ocean, and the ocean recognizing that no drop exists, is quite significant." If it were only the ego-self that were trying to surrender to the 'ocean', the quote here would be a clear expression of awakened understanding, but, as previously mentioned, the drop in this often-used analogy is the Soul and not the ego, and it can and does merge into the ocean to which it is magnetically attracted and essentially one with; moreover, the ocean has also been said to merge into the drop! Kabir called this para-bhakti. The metaphor used by Davis is similar in nature to those who say that "only enlightenment gets enlightened", or it is "the void-mind that awakens to itself." All of these are of course pointers to a paradoxical truth. There are obvious problems with speaking of the "ocean recognizing that no drop exists" - especially if one remains on the surface plane and has not yet realized the true nature of the drop - for if the ocean is truly what it is said to be, how could it be ignorant in the first place, or only recognize that one drop does not exist, and not all the others at the same time?! The metaphors all break down at some point. We are left with efforts to tweak them to somehow fit reality, but of course that is impossible. Meister Eckhart gives it another try:

   "The soul is a creature receptive to everything named, but the nameless she cannot receive until she is gotten so deep into God that she is nameless herself. And then none can tell if it is she that has gotten God or God that has gotten her."

   Richard Sylvester, in his fine book, I Hope You Die Soon says "As soon as a writer  suggests that there is  someone who can do something to bring about liberation, you are reading nonsense. Often it will be highly articulate, fluent, complex and persuasive nonsense."  He is of the "there is 'no one' to do anything" and "there is nothing one can do to be liberated"  school. Of course he adds that "there is always liberation, and liberation is also the self trying to be liberated", which moves him closer to our working perspective. But essentially he feels there is absolutely nothing one can do. While recognizing the insight of his vision, we feel it is also potentially misleading. We are in agreement with PB that there are stages of development, which - although not necessarily linear in any one life - can not be bypassed, whereby one actualizes his way from the position of being a doer, to an observer, to a non-doer: sometimes sequentially, sometimes concurrently:

   "The ego is a part of the divine order of existence. It must emerge, grow, enslave, and finally be enslaved." (37)

   "How can a man express himself unless he develops himself? The spiritual evolution which requires him to abandon his ego runs parallel to the mental evolution that requires him to perfect it." (38)

   We learn to accept and embrace who we are in the Now, and also try to be the best we can be. That seems to be the human condition. Thus, virtue is cultivated, virtue is infused - by grace, and virtue is a by-product of awakening as well. One of the reasons cultivation is recommended is so that when one awakens or recognizes a higher truth, the habit of serving others will be there in place of ego-centric tendencies which can pull consciousness out of its awakened conditioned. We see little usefulness in saying everyone is awake already, or that this just can not happen. This is only our tentative opinion, everyone is free to agree or disagree.

   Richard adds (not to pick on him!), "even in the most refined forms of transcendance there is always someone there having the experience. However, this cannot be known until it is seen even for a split second that there is no one." There is no questioning the insight he speaks of here, it is intimately familiar to us, but question if it is really of 'no one'. [For further discussion of this point, see "One-Eyed Monsters" on this website]. What is interesting about this remark is that it is exactly the same thing that PB has said many times - that "a form of individuality is always there in even the highest state attainable by man" - although he meant it in a positive sense, not as a form of mistaken identity as the advaitins make it out to be. Can we, then, possibly make sense out of all these contraries? Maybe, maybe not, but we will try one more time.

   Relativity is very vast, complex and multi-faceted. So people, in their path to awakening, will experience many different 'stories' of what is happening. All of them are right, and also wrong. They are relative! Two aspects to awakening - a more universal aspect that transcends individual differences, and a more relative aspect that is, ultimately, unique to each individual at one level, and at other levels, is still relative but in ways that can be grouped together with other ways (inversion/samadhi/inner journey paths, outer journey paths, kundalini stories, pure insight stories, initiatory stages, growth in service ability stories, returning to God stories, non-story stories, etc.). Both aspects - universal and relative - are inescapable aspects of our experience of spirituality. And so, at the story/relative level, there will be differences that reflect different relative truths about the nature of reality. Chakras, planes, bodies, qualities, insights - all can be arranged in an order and process. The whole or integral truth is realized through seeing the relative truths in each story, but also its limitations. Gradually they all come together into an comprehensive perspective from which the relative and universal truth of awakening can be appreciated in any path or individual description of the way.

   There is no best way. Each person is exactly where they are at in a relative story of awakening - and can only really grow by growing in Self-knowledge (call it intuition, wisdom, realization, insight), right now, right here, from where they are, about what is happening right in front of them, reflected in their experience of their life, their body, their feelings and thoughts. This is their inner and outer environment, and it is always a perfect mirror of their state of presence - the current level of their realization here and now. And they can only grow from here in terms of their own growth of realization, here and now, about what is 'going on', who they are, what is so. That is it. There is only that. Everything else is different relative stories of how experiences can unfold as an expression of their experience of that process. This includes viewing the mind or the body as a 'disease', as Ramana and Nisargadatta said on many occasions. We need not buy that old-school teaching, no matter how great they were otherwise. So the most 'direct' path is one that understands that and embraces that process right here and now, and rejects any belief that there is a need to go anywhere to realize that. That does not mean going somewhere is wrong. It is a process that reflects a profound relative truth about an aspect of what does go on as our realization expands. But it is a lop-sided story. It over-emphasizes the ascending aspect, where realization extends out to include all the inner planes that are also aspects of our relative nature and so will be 'included' in our comprehensive experience of reality as nondual realization grows in us. But we do not need to 'travel' there to get this balancing out. It is okay if we do. But then we must 'integrate' it. Because final nondual realization integrates everything from a center that is nowhere and everywhere. So for some, this journey inward can be very balancing as a way of expressing nondual unfoldment by honoring and experiencing other aspects of reality and truth, but it is incomplete if not finally held in a radical nondual embrace that does not focus on journeying there as the goal. Still, it can be a very powerful thing to do. And one can find out that there is 'no one' before such an expansion, or at the end - or many times in between.

   A more direct path is to cultivate the state of presence (to whatever degree that is possible for each of us at our stage), in our current life situation, with the insight that what we perceive as 'around us' is not an obstacle, a problem, a hindrance, or anything else. The state of the world (as we perceive it), the condition of our life, our body, our psyche, are all reflecting back to us our own state of presence, and our 'goal' is to be with all of that, trusting that through cultivating the qualities of presence - awareness, equanimity, surrender, patience, trust, peace, and so on - and that intuitive insight naturally grows, which is the essence of all these qualities, so they continue to deepen, and every question will be illuminated, every emotional issue resolved, every disease will be cured, every paradox illuminated. Every place where there is suffering is showing us a place where our own intuitive realization is 'destined' to grow, as it is present in our experience as a reflection of our own dharma to untangle that 'koan'. So why would one want to journey away from that? Our dharma is here with us now staring us in the face as our own experience of life and myself. Everything we need to grow is right here, now. We need only realize this and face it and the rest takes care of itself. We must stop (a hard task!) rebelling against the curriculum that reality has dealt us (which is our total karmic situation) and face it with truth, surrender, courage and equanimity - and that will be our fastest way 'out'. Because to truly achieve Self-realization is to face ourselves in the mirror - and everything we perceive in our life and mind right now is that mirror. What do we realize is the nature of everything that we see? We see our own state of realization! Because everything in our body/mind and world around us is infinitely subject to levels of reinterpretation. That is the nature of reality! So we just look at it as best we can, seeking to open to deeper understanding. Then the whole knot of our own delusion gradually unravels, revealing deeper and deeper truth, which resolves every issue. So any suffering that is there in our experience is just more realization to harvest. And by being with it in this way, it will be harvested more 'efficiently', and our own personal experience of suffering as an apparently separate being will come to an end simultaneously with all our personal suffering coming to an end. They are one and the same. This means that wisdom will come to fruition and karma will come to resolution simultaneously.

   Obviously, in this view, there is nowhere to go and nothing to get rid of, fix, heal, transform, per se - just be with what is there, be 'educated' by it, and awaken. And in this context, we learn what the lesson is at hand, not what someone else tells us is the truth that we should know. Down the road new realizations will come. Fine. What are we needing to realize right now? What is the next insight? That unfolds very naturally by surrendering to the curriculum as it arises right in front of us as our life right now. Most of us don't often realize that we are right where we are supposed to be, learning the lessons we are meant to, in a way that is absolutely right for us, according to a path of unfoldment that is, at one level, deeply unique to us. We are the path. All external teachings are various ways to try to lead a person to that realization. But eventually we realize that, although there is tremendous support for each of us on the path (we are up to our eyes in grace), we still have to realize it ourselves. That itself is now in our point of view. That is in our realization. And that is not something on some other plane. It is 'who we are' in our essential understanding right now. Surrendering means 'getting this'. Which means facing ourselves and our lives and being educated. The nature of awareness is that awareness notices things. Awareness, by its nature, has perspectives. And the process is cumulative. Awareness grows in insight all the time. A stage arises where awareness realizes that this is what is going on, and figures out ways to 'cooperate' with the process. This spirit of conscious cooperation with the curriculum we call the spiritual path. It is not forced on us. It is not about measuring up to something outside of ourselves, or pleasing someone like a guru or Deity. It is just what awareness does, and always has been doing! Then it reaches a stage where it realizes that this is what is happening and decides to expedite it.

   This wisdom to realize what is happening, and to cooperate, is a great, multifaced wisdom that does not come all at once. It comes in stages and aspects. So it can get stronger and clearer. If there is great suffering, then that means there is a great clarification going on. And this 'is' purification. Nobody is doing it to us. In on perspective, we can be said to be doing it to ourselves. We (and the whole world-process, as PB liked to say), bring into our lives exactly what mirrors our own process of growth of insight. The state of our presence, our awareness, our realization is perfectly mirrored by the 'outer' situation (which is both our life and our body/mind). They fit together perfectly. So if the 'outer' is a crisis, then the 'inner' is changing rapidly and learning some turning point realizations.

   It seems that many formerly more radical non-dual teachers, such as Jeff Foster, Adyashanti, and others, are coming around to a change of heart, or frame of reference, in which they are essentially acknowledging the need for the cultivation of what are basic soul qualities, such as persistence, sincerity, courage, endurance, and so on. Adyashanti said, "sincerity, one-pointedness [one-pointedness? Most non-dualists don't like this word, preferring to jump directly to 'no-pointedness', or 'life without a center'], and courage are essential for awakening." One asks, 'Who' is sincere and courageous? - Impersonal consciousness? No, We are. Adyashanti in fact writes, in The Way of Liberation - a book for which he has taken a little criticism for being too 'dualistic' - that:

   "In a manner of speaking we have lost (or at the very least forgotten) our souls...We remain lost to ourselves, so cut off from what nourishes the soul...The underlying drives of the ego are to feel better and to survive. But inquiry belongs entirely to the realm of the soul, that dimension of being born of stillness and light that seeks Truth for its own sake." (p. xii, 30, 26)

   Anadi affirms this when he argues that traditional inquiry indeed takes us beyond ego, but not beyond the soul, and that the real answer to "Who am I?" is not 'no one' - although that is sometimes the expected answer - but the soul.

   The emphasis above of Adyashanti reflects, in our opinion, a maturing of understanding of the non-dual approach. Similarly, Sri Nisargadatta often said, "endurance and the willingness to try are most needed." Who endures, who' tries? Not something impersonal. Even Fred Davis admits in his book, Beyond Recovery, that he had already done "all of the necessary (personal, practical) work before coming to non-duality", and that "he is actually in favor of practices, as, after all, sages have been doing them for thousands of years, and they were no fools." But he issues what has become a necessary disclaimer among non-dual circles that such practices are only if you want them, or are already doing them (since that is 'what is'), but they do not directly lead to awakening, and they better serve the stabilizing and clearing process after awakening and not before. Well, so what? All right, the various practices are supportive, they indirectly lead to awakening, and guide one afterwards. But we feel it is all not so cut and dried. There are may vicissitudes and oscillations in life, and from life to life. One of the main differences we have with such teachers is where they appear to distinguish the 'preparation' from the 'real, direct path'. From our perspective, this is an artificial distinction: life is the path, all is the path, and everything is important. PB for instance wrote of a period of time for the 'Long Path', a time of the 'Long and Short Paths' practiced concurrently, then a graduation to a 'Short Path', and then a 'real Short Path'. He was offering suggestions, but some like to say only the 'Short Path' is real, and all the rest just a bunch of business. We do not see it so. There is a progressive and also non-linear process of life completing itself. It asks for completion in the inner and outer realms. And it is essentially the soul which is doing so. Anadi writes:

   "The foundation of the spiritual seeker is sincerity. The lack of capacity can be understood and it is nobody's fault, but the lack of pure and sincere intention in the Heart is a law characteristic of the Soul. If the Heart is sincere the spiritual Light reaches the Soul in this way or another. If one is not able to succeed using one's own effort, Grace brings Transformation. In this case, the Divine does all the work and the Soul is pulled into the Light." [note: by 'spiritual Light' anadi does not mean the visionary light of mystic experience per se but the true subjective Light of divine reality and mystery].

   Further, on the notion of the Soul reaching a 'relative' completion he says:

   "The Soul which dwells in the Heart has to be fulfilled [this is contrary to popular spiritual theory, which only envisions the process as a negative one of the ego being unfulfilled]. That is her blueprint, the goal of evolution. She must reach her fulfillment. When the Soul is fulfilled, she simply transcends this particular dimension evolving further, no longer in the human dimension. The Soul, in order to be fulfilled, has to reach completion inside and completion outside. The Soul reaches completion inside by expanding into the I Am and by growing roots in the inner dimension. The Soul becomes fulfilled outside by realising herself in her emotional body and by having some important experiences in life [another more positive vision than traditional advaita or Buddhism]. She needs to express her creativity and complete all latent karmic desires [a very wholistic vision]." (Transmission of Awakening, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999, p. 142, 222)

   (A further note on the ego and intelligence)

   This leads up to the tendency on advaita to posit either the egoic consciousness or the absolute, and nothing in between. And to place a very negative spin on the ego. An example is seen in a quotation from a very fine teacher, Mooji, in which he says, paraphrased from memory, "the ego can't be seen but it has a smell; only he who is free of egoic concern can tell what is useful for spiritual awakening and what is not." Now, there is nothing wrong with this statement, but we feel it is somewhat incomplete. First, one needn't be 'free of egoic concern to be able to 'smell the ego' - one only needs to be reasonably sick and tired of one's game in order to recognize it when it arises. If one is really free of egoic concern one is enlightened! Second, and more importantly, however, this reflects the advaita tendency to negate manifestation, or all that is not the state of presence. It paints a picture of ego that does not recognize it as a tool of the Soul, which in fact is a dynamic center of intelligence that guides our path to enlightenment, and helps us check on our state before and after enlightenment as well. Advaita would have the state of presence, or attention aware of attention, consciousness, as the only thing of worth. Subsequently, the active persona, the intelligence that can think consciously and intently, as contrasted with only being a passive witness to thoughts coming in from the subconscious, is essentially dismissed as either unimportant, unreal, or nonexistent ("the ego is a myth" - Colin Drake). But this is not a wholistic position. The self-reflexive movement of consciousness that is ego is an evolutionary advance, says anadi, and while we can certainly get stuck in it, it is necessary for our growth. Let him explain:

   "Who we are, in the mind, is composed of two centers. One, is the static centre of the State of Presence which does not change. Second, is the dynamic centre of our intelligence. This dynamic centre is always in movement, and it relates to both: to the State of Presence and to the gross level of spontaneous thinking coming from the subconscious mind. This intuitive intelligence is very important for it allows us to grow and to understand the process of awakening...A longtime ago, in India, a concept was created that one is not a doer, that one is purely a Witness. This concept is coming from the awakening to the centre of Consciousness. When the State of Presence is awakened, the mind becomes witnessed from behind and moves to the periphery. The movement of thoughts is no longer in the centre. In the centre is this non-dual Awareness which is,so to speak, witnessing the mind. This concept, however, is not completely correct. This concept implies that one identifies oneself fully with the State of Presence and refuses to see the self-conscious movement of intelligence as being an integral part of Me. In this what we perceive the mind and its intelligence a something just happening on the screen of Consciousness, and not being Me. However, much more accurate is to say that they both constitute the reality of Me. You are the witness and you are the intuitive intelligence as well...and, in truth, it is only because you are this intelligence that you can discover the State of Presence and are able to relate to it. You, as the intelligence, relate to the State of Presence...The traditional teachings, which have been created a few thousand years ago, did not discover how the Inner State and the movement of intelligence relate to each other." (Ibid, p. 156-158)

   So what he is saying is that the State of Presence and the active intelligence are both parts of the I Am, the whole Me, or Soul. This relates to what PB wrote above that "the spiritual evolution which requires him to abandon his ego runs parallel to the mental evolution that requires him to perfect it." This allows a realistic, dynamic non-duality to unfold.

   This, then, is one depiction of the path, from our perspective. Obviously, there are infinite perspectives because the I AM is infinite with infinite angles of perspective and no one being can lay claim to them all, nor should he. When followed to completion, however, one achieves nondual realization and the state of presence and the environment collapse into a state of radical nondual transcendence (nirvikalpa), in which we are reborn into a new octave of spiritual development in which we re-emerge in a state of permanent sahaja, but with a new pattern of phenomena arising which reflects not a story of coming to our own liberation or nondual realization, but our integration of that state of nondual presence with planetary karma/story/evolution. The realization in our state of presence continues to grow in richness, never to lose again the perfect balance in sahaja of seeing it all arising in the state of nondual presence. Are we then Soul, Oversoul, the One, Consciousness only? It is a mystery. Individuality then continues to exist, but not as the experience of a separate selfhood (which never existed anyway), but as a self that is an integral part of a total Presence. This Presence does not favor universality or individuality, but realizes then as interdependent parts of a Global Realization Beingness that each individuality is an aspect of. There is no need to negate individuality to enter this state of realization. But knowing that this is what we all realize in liberation (whether our relative wisdom understands it exactly this way or not), does not mean that we should strive to experience that right now. That realization comes quite naturally when it is ripe. We just need to be present with what is right in front of us in our experience now, surrender to that curriculum, and have beginner's mind, letting the insights that arise be the learning of the moment. If it doesn't seem like insight is happening, then it is suggested we look back over a period of greater time like a month or a year and ask ourselves - have I grown in understanding? But we must not set up an idea of what that understanding must be - like do I 'get' nondual awakening, have I realized there is 'no person', or have I gone to Sat Lok? If we set up that kind of preconceived idea of what learning looks like, we will usually decide nothing has happened, and will feel disappointed, discouraged, and despairing - which is its own form of learning. But if we learn to appreciate the subtle, gradual expressions of wisdom and intuition as they unfold day by day, week by week, then we gradually come to realize that growth is happening all the time in ways we never noticed.

   Final Comments

   One can say we practice in one form or no-form essentially to enable or allow grace to work in us and on us and as us. PB writes:

   “Once he has touched this stillness briefly, learned the way to it, and comprehended its nature, his next task is to develop it. This takes time and practice and knowledge. Or, rather, the work is done on him, not by him. He has to let be.” (39)

   Note the understatement in his phrasing: once he has "learned the way to it, and comprehended its nature" - this speaks volumes. Its scope is the entire path.

   At one stage, then, effort and grace, as well as karma and grace, are seen as mutually-invoking. At a further stage, they are seen as inseparable. Grace, moreover, need not be seen as something just ‘always there, one need only open to it’, or solely ‘the Overself’s benign and loving presence’, for there is a third component: the ecclesiastical body of saints and liberated masters, who, one with the Nirvanic condition, act as conduits of grace, and may, within certain laws, alter karmic patterns favorably to one’s spiritual benefit, as well as activate forces within one, be they ‘shakti or siva’ oriented (i.e., energetic or conscious in nature - which are ultimately the same), that may in some cases be almost said to create a unique path for each so blessed aspirant (such as ‘the Path of Fire’ mentioned by Irena Tweedie’s master). In which case any stages may be compacted to the maximum extent possible - and asked for. For remember, PB has warned us:

   “Beware what you pray for. Do not ask for the truth unless you know what it means and all that it implies and nevertheless are still willing to accept it. For if it is granted to you, it will not only purge the evil out of you but later purify the egoism from your mind. Will you be able to endure this loss, which is unlikely to be a painless one?"

   Or as deCaussade wrote:

   "When this storm is past you will understand..so keenly and distinctly that you will not know how, sufficiently, to thank God for having put His hand to the work, and to operate within your soul in a few months, what with the help of ordinary grace would have taken you, perhaps, twenty years to accomplish, namely, to get rid of a hidden self-love, and of a pride all the more dangerous in being subtle and more imperceptible." (40)

   This much we can certainly expect to be true: a true humility first and last remains one's sheet-anchor:

   “Here [in the Void] they have naught to gain or get, no glorious spiritual rapture to add to their memories, no great power to increase their sense of being a co-worker with God. Here their very life-blood is to be squeezed out as the price of entry; here they must become the feeblest of creatures...Others may believe that he stands in the great Light, but he himself has no particular or ponderous self-importance." (41)

   Of course, this is also how the Sant Satgurus speak. They say that one does becomes a 'conscious co-worker of the divine plan', because, while recognizing one's nothingness, one sees that He is doing it. And for this one’s life-blood is squeezed out, even before the depths of the Void, as one ‘dies’ at each plane quit by the soul. And PB did acknowledge this paradox of being a co-worker elsewhere, saying that one will learn to co-operate as much with the Higher Will as he once refused to do earlier. From another perspective the notion of 'two' wills is ultimately transcended.

   The essence re-summarized

   The late William Samuel taught of the soul in much the same way that PB was trying to articulate. Only his methodology of finding it differed fairly dramatically in its simplicity. But what he essentially said was, more with the Sufi than the Advaitin, "He is me; I am not He" :

   "Only God is God, and we are the children of God. "My Father is greater than I." Yet "My Father and I are one."

   "Knower, knowing, and known. These three are one. The Knower is the known. The Knower is the knowing. Yes, yes, but the knowing is not the Knower...The awareness reading these words is the knowing of Life/God/Godhead - but God is greater than God's Self-perception."

   "The tangible world is God's knowledge of What God is...Life is God's knowledge of Who God is. The Child
[Soul] within that sparks the life of each of us is God's own Self-awareness in the process of happening. That spark is God's Self-Image...The Who includes the What and there is no division between Awareness and the images that appear within it here."

   Thus God could be said to be expressing (inseparably) as Spirit-Matter, Purusha-Prakriti. The 'subjective' idea is:

   "I am perceiving/perception happening; I am Awareness itself, perceiving naught but my own perception."

   But this Awareness is not God; it belongs to God:

   "The Ineffable, the Supernal One, Isness, Reality, Godhead is the only possible Identity that exists and is, therefore, being this Awareness-I-am here and now."

   Thus, God is being us. We are the knowingness, the Self-awareness of God - yet we do not know everything. God is the Knower, God knows everything. God is the Thinker, we are the thinking; therefore let the Thinker do the thinking! "My ideas" - what a silly notion.

   Matter, inseparable from awareness, is the wisdom of God. Therefore, consciousness and its objects are one, as the non-dualists say. Yet neither this awareness or knowing are God, rather, God is being us as awareness and knowing. This is the Christ-Child, our True Identity as an image of God. The 'real' of us is the Awareness and Life of us, never born, never going into or out of matter, and which knows 'in some marvelous way' that 'only God is going on'. And all that happens in time is just a retroactive confirmation of our True Identity in eternity, however long or short of an ordeal there may be. Truly, we are being lived. Following inner promptings, the whispers of our true heart's desires, we let go of the anxious, false ego identity, which is but an image of the Image that we are.

   Getting in touch with, or affirming and assuming, the Soul or 'Child' position, is the way to go beyond naive worldly objectivism, as well as a partial metaphysical subjectivism, which, while not wrong, is only half-right in its teaching of matter and time's illusion, when leaving out the heart and its guiding light on how to be and work in the linear world of time.

   We surrender the 'old man' or 'me' to God, and then find the divine Child or Self, the image of God and which is subservient to God or Godhead. Samuel writes quite beautifully:

   "Yes, God is ONE and ALL, but this Awareness-I-am is not God. A monumental gulf separates the statement "The Self-I-am is God" from "God is the Self-I-am." Most writers of the day, daring their profoundest metaphysical "paradoxes" declare, "I am Truth; I am Life; I am Love" or "God is all and I am that all," but a vast dark night of apparent agony hangs like a veil between those pronouncements and the ones that say, "Truth am I; Life am I; Love am I! The All is being this consciousness I am!"

   "Yes we may state, "I am the Awareness of God"; but it is God who is aware, not we, not I. I am Awareness Itself, God's awareness of God! I am God's own Awareness in action, beholding the Infinite nature of the Divine Selfhood which is being all I am - BUT I AM NOT GOD! The Awareness called "I" is not God. Awareness is the action of God, but not me."

   "Life, Awareness, belongs to God - and that Awareness ITSELF is the CHILD, the Image of God."
[Child = Soul = ultimately, when identified with, the Son or Logos] (42)

   PB wrote:

   "Knowledge of law, language, or history can be collected and becomes a possession but knowledge of the Overself is not at all the same. It is something one must be: it owns us, we do not have it."

   Thus, according to Samuel's way of looking at it, the Soul is not God; God is being the Soul, made in His image. [Plotinus expressed this as the Soul made in the image if the Intellectual Principle or Nous]. And the first fruits of this awakening are the re-birth of joy, wonder, awe, enthusiasm, expectancy, and exhuberance of life, which is the guiding thread, the Christos or Gnosis, the "little Child that shall lead us", to the true Self. No superhuman efforts are required, rather acceptance is the key. Thus one can see that subjective metaphysical teachings such as Advaita, while in possession of part of the Mystery, when dismissing the Soul are often dry and found wanting.

   Ramana Maharshi at times spoke in a similar manner:

   "I am only a believer in God's existence. Do not say I am God."


   "I adore Guha the Dweller in the Cave of the Heart, the Son of the protector of the Universe, the pure light of Awareness beyond thought, the wielder of the weapon of jnana-sakti and the Remover of ignorance of blemishless devotees." (43)

   Here he seems to be saying that the light of Awareness, our identity as consciousness, the 'I Am', is the 'Son', the 'Liberator', but not the Absolute, which might be said to be the deeper Source of the I Am, or that on which the I Am rests.

   Note: need it be said, however, that this perspective regarding 'God and His Image, the Son, the Soul' must be held lightly, inasmuch as no position, objective or subjective, monistic or trinitarian, can possibly be a true expression of nondual truth? Nondual truth realizes within relativity that nonduality is the truth of relativity, and as such continually illuminates many areas within relativity. But it is not limited to relativity. As such, the various views proposed have experiential value only, but remain relative truths, becoming less and less definitive the 'higher' one goes. Thus talk of 'soul', 'God', 'realms', 'planes', etc., are paradoxical and subject to the limits of relativity and our relative language. While we must contend with views as given above, then, we must further do likewise with (a) views of esotericism that hold that our notions of God are limited to the lower worlds of time and space, while at loftier levels there is not just 'one thing', one 'God', but an Infinity and infinite assembly of liberated non-separate Beings who collectively could be called 'God' from our perspective, and are responsible for creation of the worlds (i.e., "Let us make man in our image"); and (b) views of esotericism that embrace much more elaborate notions concerning a Trinity, such as Father-Son-Mother (Energy-Consciousness-Matter), and/or Father-Son-Holy Spirit principles; and then we must also simultaneously contend with the (c) radically simple views such as the advaitic 'no-creation or ajatavada held by sages such as Ramana Maharshi and others. And finally, that all of these may be true, and further, truth is doubtless far more unfathomable even than that! Thankfully, the true realizer that uses such language knows that he is not bound or defined by it, that he is not that, but must try very hard to give us a teaching that approximates the truth in a manner that is useful to us at our stage of understanding. [Thus we can see that the second para by PB regarding 'God' quoted at the beginning of this article may perhaps be somewhat simplistic and provisional, meant for our well-being but to be superceded by an evolving understanding].

   Well, there you have it. We are finished. No wiser, perhaps, but finished! And we will end where we began:

   ”What happens metaphysically to the further existence of the being resulting from the conscious union of the ego with the Overself is guarded as a mystery and may not be discussed.”


[For more on PB’s views on Soul, evolution, reincarnation and Advaita Vedanta, what evolves and what gets enlightened, is there annihilation or merger in the One, is there in fact an individuality that survives and continues in this and higher spheres and/or planets, or is the entire travail of evolution meaningless, and so on, please see "Bedtime Stories: Are They Real?", "After Realization, What Next?", "PB and Plotinus: The Fallacy of Divine Identity", and "The Primordial Ground" on this website. For PB's concept of long and short paths, see "The Long and Short of It". For stages of realization, and the need for the cultivation of noble qualities, see "Khanti Yoga - The Yoga of Endurance", "The Depths of This Thing", "Not A One-Shot", "Ennui", "Don't Expect To Know", "Caught on the Path - The Master Trap", and "Patience and Perseverance". For the Overself as inner Ruler and bestower of grace, see, "The Deeper Meaning of the Dark Night of the Soul", and "Karma and Grace"].

   Part 4

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18a. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 1, 2.122
18b. Anadi, Enlightenment Beyond Traditions (New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999), p. 155-157
19. Anadi, source misplaced
20. Brunton, source misplaced
21. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 1, 2.40
21a. Anadi, book of enlightenment, p. 146)
22. Brunton, op. cit., Vol 16, Part 4, 2.139
23. Ibid, Vol. 16, Part 4, 2.155-156
24. Shree Atmananda, reference misplaced
24a. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part Four, 2.95
24aa. Ibid, Vol. 16, Part 4, 2.92
24aaa. Ibid, 2.79
24b. Ibid, Vol. 15, Part 1, 8.171
24c. Ibid, Vol. 6, Part 8, 1.188
25. Swami Saradananda, Ramakrishna The Great Master (Mylapore, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 6th edition, 2008), p. 543-545
25a. Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, Rainbow Body: The Life and Realization of a Tibetan Yogin, Togden Ugyen Tendzin, trans, ed., and annotated by Adriano Clemente (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2012), p. ix, 84
25b. Godman, David, The Power of the Presence, Part Two (Boulder, CO: Avadhuta Foundation) p. 115
25c. Anthony Damiani, Astronoesis (Burdett, NY: Larson Publications, 2000, p. 43-45
26. Aziz Kristof (Anadi), The Human Buddha (Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000), p. 341, 421-422, 349-350
27. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, Chapter 5, 341
28. Ibid, Vol. 3, Chapter 3, 32
29. Ibid, Vol. 10, 2.54
30. Ibid, Vol. 11, 2.222,238,241,250,124
31. Ibid, Vol. 12, 5.238
32. Ibid, Vol. 9, 1.277
32b. Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles: Lives of the Great Buddhist Masters of India and Tibet (Boston: Shambhala, 1999), p. 277
33. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 4.35
34. Ibid, Vol.16, Part 1, 2.251
35. Ibid, Ibid, 2.19
36. Ibid, Vol. 13, Part 20, 4.95
37. Ibid, Vol. 6, Part 8, 1.165
38. Ibid, 1.158
39. Ibid, Vol. 15, Part 2, 4.75
40. Jean-Pierre deCaussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence (10th Complete French Edition by E.J. Strickland, (England: Sydney Lee, Limited, 1921) p. 264
41. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 15, Part 1, 8.59; ref. misplaced
42. William Samuel, excerpts from The Child Within Us Lives, and Awareness and Tranquility
43. Professor Laxmi Narain, ed., Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Hyderabad: Sri Ramana Kendram, 2007), p. 271, 296