The closing of the book Halfway up the Mountain by Mariana Caplan is a chapter on how enlightenment is only the beginning.
She correctly notes there is no “top end” or final state. From the perspective here, there is a final stage in consciousness but the potential of knowledge, perception and refinement is essentially endless. Enlightenment is to be lived, not achieved.
She describes how you have to come down out of the unitive state and live enlightenment in the world in a state of “enlightened duality.” This is what I’d call awakening, Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness. In that stage of development, the cosmic Self has been realized here but only the observer has awoken. There is still a separate and perhaps illusory world. This is dwaita or duality even though so often framed as non-duality (which comes later).
The weakness in this presentation is the assumption the process will be experienced this way. A few do experience a profound unity with awakening, followed by a settling into standard awakening. Adyashanti is an example of this style. Unity as an established stage comes sometime later.
However, most people don’t have this style of shift. They simply awaken to their cosmic nature.
The book drifts a little sideways into such ideas as “practice of presuming enlightenment.” This is not an approach I’d recommend. Key is being OK with what is here. If we’re making a mood of being detached or whatever, it can engage a subtle avoidance or non-acceptance rather than actual detachment.
While the book extensively quotes a wide range of sources, it is predominantly a modern Buddhist orientation and is missing more than a general reference to further stages. However, it has covered its main subject well – the error of premature claims of enlightenment – especially when such people become teachers.
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