In a forum, someone posted a teacher’s description of confusing experience with being and the actual shift from a me-sense to Self, otherwise known as Self Realization. However, the quote was full of absolute references of being complete, death of I and mind, and so forth. My response below is edited a little for context.
Sorry, but there are several flaws in this. Yes, the experience is not it. There has to be the shift in Being. But what follows is not fixed.
Some of the confusion comes out of the words. For example, I and mind. The sense of individual, separate me and my mind controlling my life do indeed “die” (although there are subjective variations in that). But what of universal mind, in which this universe arises? What of cosmic mind, in which this creation arises? And what of those who experience the I shifting from a me to Atman, the Self? Why is it called Self if there is no “I”? What of “I am That”? Those do not die with this shift. Just the identification with a me.
I fully agree that the shift in being is an irreversible shift. But to say this is the “complete and full realization” is a very serious error. I fully appreciate it can feel like that. But I harp on this because it’s so incomplete. The Rig Veda also harps on it.
What of Vedanta? Self Realization as described is not non-duality. That is yet to flower. Yep – lots have confused Self Realization with non-duality, just as in the quote they may confuse experience with being. But oneness is just that. One without a second.
Self Realization is the shift from a me to the Self, to cosmic being, as the quote describes. It is not yet a recognition everything else is That also. In the texts it is dwaita, duality. There certainly is a sense of inner oneness and it being the sole reality but it’s not yet complete. There is still an other, even if illusory. It’s not inclusive yet.
And what of when you shed Atman, much as you once shed the ego? That is known as the Great Awakening as it is much greater than Self Realization. In this case, you shed everything, not just a me-sense.
This to me is an all too common case where the description of that one key initial shift is presented as the whole thing. I appreciate the desire for teachers to simplify it and get out of concepts (mind). To focus on going beyond the me and all the baggage the mind is holding.
But to do that by creating barriers to further progress is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I know teachers who talk about the full gamut but easily support people through the shift. Now they are open to the full potential of it. What happens then? Often much faster progress into later stages.
An example? 10 years after the shift, they’re still uncertain. Once they have context, the whole thing moves forward again. I’ve also seen several examples of people who have moved through several stages in a remarkably short period of time. In one example, it was a review of the stages that triggered the next shift. We’re so not served by a small picture.
I can also note that the option to awaken by sitting at the feet of a realized being doing inquiry is not an option for everyone.
The instruction about this one step is valid. But what is presented here is too much of a box. Others may object to a model of stages but I guarantee – that map is a lot more complete than this one.