Funny – I began pasting the comments here to provide some content while life was too full to write much. But the conversation has continued. These are replies to multiple people. Still working on the large Stages article. And the ‘Like’ feature has silenced most comments here.
The arena of desires is a fascinating one and can be all about context. On the one hand, there is the teaching for renunciates to give up on all desires of the world. On the other hand, there is the householders life that is full of desires, desires that are needed to continue acting.
However, the role of desires changes as we evolve through different stages. When the sense of “me” falls away with Self Realization, there is nothing there to desire. So there can be a sense of desirelessness. However, as we act in the world, we notice the impulse to act still arises. Only now, this is not personal desire but rather desire coming through us. Over time, there can be a sense of desire arising from different sources. Needs of the body-mind, needs of the community, needs of the divine. This relates back to the 4 forms of dharma.
Vairagya is dispassion or detachment – to ego, desires, thoughts, etc. Some teachings advocate a practice of this but from my perspective, this again is for monks. It will arise naturally as an effect of the shift into the witness or observer state with or around Self Realization. (when the kundalini is released and reaches makara above the third eye, the witness becomes stable and permanent.)
From what I’ve seen, there is an aspect of unconditional emotion that arises with the witness and falling away of attachment. However, it is when Shiva and Shakti descend together to the heart after awakening that this really comes online. This is the Refined stage post-awakening and is dominated by refining perception (via sattva via soma) and the awakening heart. This opens a second deeper value of the heart called Hridaya. (Anahata or the heart chakra opens during the prior ascent)(The Fleur-de-Lis symbol is from this – the fully awake heart.)
Yes, there are some traditions that emphasize an inquiry into “I”. And sometimes, an awakening is triggered by such practice or a spontaneous inquiry. It’s useful to note that a meditation practice is useful prior so there is a sense of the presence, of pure being, so there can be an inquiry into that. Otherwise, people can be just contemplating self-concepts.
Back to desire:
I can mention that in the 7th Mandala of the Rig Veda, Vasishtha emphasized the importance of desiring Unity or non-duality after awakening. I can add that in order to desire it, we have to know it’s there and not be confused about what it is. There can be a sense of being done after Self Realization, so it’s important to know there’s more. In fact, Self Realization (in the way I’m using the term) is the kindergarten of enlightenment. I can’t emphasize enough on this point. It is a huge milestone and profoundly important. But it’s just the beginning.
And here is the closing verses of the Rig Veda:
“Integrated is the expression of knowledge, an assembly is significant in unity, united are their minds while full of desires. For you I make use of the integrated expression of knowledge. By virtue of unitedness and by means of that which remains to be united, I perform action to generate wholeness of life.
United by your purpose, harmonious be your feelings, collected be your mind, in the same way as all the various aspects of the universe exist together in wholeness.”
Note “united are their minds while full of desires.” But these are not “my” desires nor are we attached to them. They simply flow as life flows through us.
A brief note on your first comment. What he is describing is his experience in a stage prior to non-duality. Tolle is not a teacher of non-duality. Nor is Adyashanti. Psychology and life as a school it is not non-duality either. Concepts about non-duality are not it. Not even close. Non-duality cannot even be approached until after Self Realization. That was the point of talking of the stages. To put it in context.
This is not to discount your ideas. Only to note that supporting people through the journey of life is not non-duality. It is perhaps preparing the ground for that place eventually. But preparing for the journey is not arriving.
On attachment and karma. In Indian philosophy, they describe the wheel of karma, of action that cycles back over and over. When we’re attached to the results of action, we become attached to the associated desires.
When we experience the results of action, we experience a wave of satisfaction. But then the excitement about the new clothes fades. We loose the feeling of satisfaction and see it associated with things outside of ourselves. So to regain that satisfaction, we again desire something else new. New clothes, new relationship, new job, whatever. But always, it fails to bring us continual satisfaction. So always we desire more… This is the rotating wheel of karma. Or at least one way of talking about it.
Another aspect is all the unresolved emotional baggage we carry has a background influence on our experience. And drives us to reactive action, causes the “monkey mind” and so forth.
When we begin to find satisfaction within and resolve the old baggage, we free ourselves of the attachment to desires and external satisfaction. The wheel of karma that drove us into repetitive pointless action and reaction begins to wind down.
After awakening, this winds the rest of the way down, freeing us from layers and layers of stuff. Reactive action, the monkey mind, a lot of background worry/fear/fussing, etc, and so forth. Baggage is lifted, the mind settles, life becomes more clear, enjoyable and settled. The philosophy tells us that we stop producing new karmas, our mountains of past seeds of karma are roasted (ending past obligations), and we then only have the “sprouted seeds” of the current life to live out.
That’s kind of a nutshell version. The basics are simple but the complexity of action is incomprehensible.
re: “The binding influence is what you want to resolve”. The binding is the attachment or identification we’ve been talking about. As you resolve or release or let go of that, the energy resolves, the burden lifts and the light can shine through.
As a followup to my first comment. What you describe about shifting into the now is very good progress. Personal desires fall away and you are simply moved to action through you rather than from you. This is progress towards Self Realization when there is a shift in who you are.
I know there are many who will describe living in the Now as a non-dual state but it’s not. Even more so when Me is still there. The non-dual state is inclusive of all time and all space, not just the now. And it comes after some other stages prior.
You have made good progress but try not to get ahead of yourself. Falling into the trap of comparing yourself and such is falling out of the Now and into the me, rating who I am, etc. Awakening is seeing how small you’ve been for so long.
How big you really are is beyond ego so it’s not about a me.
Falling Into Grace is a more recent book of Adyashanti’s, after The End of Your World. It is mainly about settling into an awakening. Grace is a prominent experience of the Refined stage after awakening, although many will certainly experience it in their lives if they frame things that way. And many who awaken describe it as from grace because there was nothing a me did to make it happen.
Grace is the gift we cannot explain. It is our very life.
D.: Is not Grace the gift of the Guru?
M.: God, Grace and Guru are all synonymous and also eternal and immanent.
“Advaita Vedanta” is redundant. Vedanta means “end of the Veda”. It includes the Brahma Sutras and Upanishads, the second of which is excerpts from the other larger Vedas. We could describe them as stories and aphorisms on Unity. They are the core of true non-duality or advaita teachings.
Tolle and Adya would laugh if they were told they were Vedantins. Adyashanti is from the Zen tradition. He does tend to speak in ways that might be called Vedic. And he does address Unity to some degree but mostly speaks to Self Realization. Tolle is not from any tradition and only speaks to Self Realization, although he doesn’t call it that. His techniques are better for someone who has woken. As is typical for someone with no tradition, they offer techniques to culture what he already has.
It sounds like Waite confuses Self Realization with Vedanta. Lots of that around. To illustrate the error, the Upanishads have a classic phrase set: “I am That, Thou art That, all this is That, That alone is.” Classic Vedanta. But if you experience the world as illusion, you are not experiencing “all this is That”. You are experiencing it as Not That, the opposite. Similarly, Thou art That is a reference to God or the supreme Being. Betcha he doesn’t talk about that. And so on. This is the stuff of Unity into Brahman, not Self Realization. Except perhaps I am That.
In Self Realization, there is an inner experience of wholeness and unity and the outer world can seem an illusion (depending on individual progress). When you then read Vedanta, it can sound something like your experience. Add in a few teachers using ‘Self Realization’ as a catchall term for enlightenment and you get people confusing the two and associating Self Realization and Unity. Only they are 2 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT REALITIES. (stages) World as illusion and world as myself are very, very different. Another opposite.
There are people out there trying to correct this error but its a dominant mistake at the moment, just like applying ideas of the monks path to householders is dominant. And it’s an error that can get in the way of progress or leave rapidly evolving students confused when they move past “enlightenment”.
To be clear, most teachers now don’t even recognize the Refined stage of Self Realization. They’re only ever talking about the first stage. That’s where the majority of those who have shifted are, but that’s changing.
People are of course welcome to teach what they like, but if they’re going to use Vedic terminology, they should at least know what they’re talking about and not be co-opting terms with long-established meanings. Saying Advaita these days is right up there with saying “quantum” in new age circles.
The Self I refer to is the capital S Self, known as Atman in the Vedas. It is pure Being, the roots of our soul. It is the cosmic Self or I-sense that is inclusive of all.
When I say “Self Realization”, I mean the shift from having experiences or tastes of That to recognizing we are That. But actually, it is the Self that wakes up to Itself. It has nothing to do with a me.
This is not a concept. It is a living reality for millions.
We have tastes of it primarily through samadhi. But actually, we touch it every time we change states of consciousness. At each shift, we briefly go through a kind of neutral gear of silence. Self is not a thing to be experienced. It is boundless, silent being. You may have had the occasional experience of waking in the morning and not knowing for a moment who or where you are. This is a brief experience of being conscious while the ego was still off-line. (ego (me-concept) ends when the mind sleeps in deep seep) Ego then jumps in and may react with fear. But in the moment before that, you simply were, without a me-sense. It’s very natural.
You have said that clearly. But if the Self doesn’t exist, why would it already be present? And I agree, it is already present. It is only waking up to itself already being present, but now through an apparent person. This is the common subjective experience of it.
And yes, I refer to books and old texts. But this is to back up what I’m saying. It is not the foundation of my words.
Yes, there can be a sense of being personally responsible for our experience of duality. But even that is not the right term. It is the experience of multiplicity. Duality or dwaita in the context of non-duality is the experience of Self Realization – inner Self, outer world.
But our experience of the world is actually only an effect of our stage of development. While we could say we are personally responsible for learning to walk and talk, it is meaningless to expect this of a newborn. To blame ourselves for not experiencing oneness before this is our stage is to make the me illusion responsible for something it has no clue about.
Actually I explained the source of this experience prior. When we are identified with a me-sense, we see ourselves as distinct individuals, separate from all others and all things of the world. It is identification that causes this. And it is a natural stage of development. When we experience our deeper nature through samadhi, etc, the bounds of identification are lessened. We are responsible for adopting a practice and taking care of ourselves. We are responsible for our choices. But we are not responsible for our stage or biology. We are responsible for accepting what we have in that context.
And yes, the mind creates an image and concepts about all these things. And these can be a barrier to being. But that is the nature of the mind. If we fight the mind, we just create another barrier. The idea is to recognize the mind does this and not take it so seriously.
There is no perfect right way for everyone to be. Each of us must find our own path and make our own choices. Seek what you resonate with, follow your bliss, etc. That is our responsibility.