These stages can be used to get you into your journey of enlightenment with stability. This is only one of many ways of enlightenment. It is based on the teaching of Advaita Vedanta. You can take these at any speed you like, but I recommend staying on each stage for weeks or months at a time.
If you are not aware of what the “true self” is, first check out Intro to the True Self
Stage 1: Being the True Self
This first stage is all about becoming stable in “being the true self”. Practice of this stage alone would lead you through enlightenment just fine. Stage 2 and 3 are more like accelerators of understanding. Understanding doesn’t even need to happen, but naturally it tends to happens and it can play a massive role in how you live your life. Without Stage 2 and 3 you may in the future just become totally lost and unstable. We really want to avoid that so Stage 2 and 3 are just as important as this stage.
Anchor in stillness
The truth is we are always being the true self. But we’re not always identified as it. We are usually identified as the person and the ego. So what we want to do is notice where our sense of self is, and if it is not sitting in the still space of pure awareness, shift it there.
The more you notice and shift your sense of self into the pure awareness throughout your daily life, the more you reinforce an anchor into stillness.
If you don’t understand how to notice and shift your sense of self, don’t worry, look at it this way instead; Throughout daily life, take moments to notice that you are in fact the pure witnessing awareness. Take moments to notice your own unchanging constant presence, Take moments to notice that everything you see, hear, feel and think, is just appearances in front of your unchanging self. The more you notice your own true nature, the more your sense of self just naturally shifts into it.
If you again don’t understand how to do that, don’t worry, if you simply bask in the unchanging pure awareness that is YOU., all will fall into place. Bask in this isness. It’s all around you and all inside you, you can’t escape from it, it’s closer than close. Recognize that and bask in it. Feel it. Absorb into it. You can do this through meditation or you can just do it throughout the day. It is a gift that just keeps giving.
This is the bit everyone finds scary, but please bear with me here. This happens naturally when being the true self, but I want you to do this experiment to prove something very important to yourself. This is something you must experience to understand.
Let go of your current idea of yourself. Let go of your worries. Let go of your needs. Let go of your desires. Let go of your grudges. Let go of your guilt. Let go of your inner voice. Let go of your emotions. Let go of your body.
“Let go of my body? What are you talking about you crazy man?”
When I say “let go” of all these things, I mean stop holding onto them for dear life. Your mind is constantly “in” them, constantly identifying with them. I ask you now to detach yourself from it all. It’s like putting a little bit of space in between YOU and the things. Usually YOU and the things are all jumbled up together in a distorted mess. Usually YOU are trapped inside the cage of the person. By letting go of all the things, they float just a little bit away from YOU.
“C’mon, I can’t drop everything, I’ve got a life to live, responsibilities…”
Drop your attachment to all these things and see for yourself if your responsibilities run away. All that stuff will still be there waiting for you, and your body/mind is still free to do whatever it wants. Difference is, YOU won’t be stuck in the cage of the body, mind and things.
End of Suffering
When you create a space between YOU and things, you have reached the end of suffering. Suffering is just a thing. No thing can even touch you, nothing can harm you, nothing can affect you in any way.
This is your experiment
Live like this for a while, put it to the test and see if I’m talking rubbish or if you’ve just discovered something truly magical. Stabilize in it before moving onto Stage 2. This could take weeks or months, just take your time, bath in your own presence. Get used to it.
Feel free to ask questions in the forum.
Stage 2: Contemplation
If you were patient with Stage 1, you should now be stable in your own presence. Fantastic! I would love to hear about your experience! email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me all about it. It often helps to get feedback and confirmation that you aren’t just going crazy, so I’ll do my best to respond to you all.
In this stage you are going to gain an understanding of what you are experiencing. Stage 1 was an experiment, Stage 2 is an investigation. I will provide some specific topics here for you to contemplate, to get you going. I will give an outline of each topic so you know which direction to think, and your mind will mingle out the details and how they are relevant to your own journey.
Take your time through these!
The True Self in Depth
If you want to know yourself truly, you’ve gotta spend some time contemplating the full extent of what the true self actually is.
There are many angles you can look at the true self. Take the physical reality angle for example. What is this thing (no-thing) that you can’t touch but is always there? When I follow a certain train of thought I realize that this pure awareness is pervading all of reality, because it simply must. It just is. It is outside of time and space but intimate with time and space. It’s closer than close.
So, there is this one formless, unchanging thing watching the whole universe? At the parts where it’s watching a human being, it sees all conscious activity in the brain, like senses and thoughts. What about a rock? If awareness is pervading all reality then a rock is conscious… What is it like for the true self to watch a rock? I’ll give you a hint, think about deep sleep, awareness is there but no activity to watch. In deep sleep there is no dream, no vision, no thoughts, no time. And what is it like to be a plant? Plants do have photosynthesis, which is basically sensing light. Imagine having no thoughts and the only thing in existence was that you could feel light on your skin. Then there’s the roots and all that good stuff, I’m just providing food for thought here.
By now we’ve pretty much established that there is only one witness, only one true self for all of existence. What are the implications of that? Think about it, it means we are literally all the same. This takes “we are one” to several new levels. And it means there is no distance between you or I.
The Person and the Ego
“The person” is this fleshy and individual existence. The body and the mind are in the dimension of the person.
“The ego” is what we call the identity created by the mind. This identity, the ego. feels constantly threatened by the world outside itself. It’s that voice in your head that’s constantly worrying and stressing. It’s that voice in your head that thinks it calls the shots. It’s that false “I am”. “I am angry”, “I am happy”, “I am bored”, “I am driving a car”, “I am getting old”, “I am Stephen”. The true I am is none of these things.
The ego is our false identity and it has been built through conditioning. We are so much more than what the ego says we are. We are infinite and eternal. We can break out of our conditioned identity by emerging as our true nature.
Try to notice how the ego responds to things. Being offended, anger, annoyances, jumping to conclusions, even pain (emotional or physical). When you notice these responses, really look at them through the eye of truth. You’ll see them for what they are. Illusions.
This is a great one. I would be entirely accurate in saying that we are all constantly being bathed in pure bliss. You have probably already felt this bliss by this point. It is good to understand where such a good feeling comes from.
The feeling literally comes from nothing. This bliss is a happiness not caused by anything. It is peace to such a degree that it is sheer bliss. Remember that the true self is untouched and unchanging and undisturbed, meaning the true self literally IS peace. The true self literally IS bliss. Wrap your mind around that one.
Here’s some more fun food for thought. You are the same witness when you are awake and when you are in dream, yes? Well, in a dream, the things which appear in the dream are also YOU, correct? What if I said that in waking life, everything that appears is also YOU? Making this a dream too.
I’ll give you a hint, all is consciousness. Everything that exists, exists in consciousness.
Another hint, the only thing you can prove to be real is your perception. You can’t prove that the tree you’re looking at exists, no matter how much you look at it and touch it. You can prove to yourself that you are seeing and feeling a tree, but you cannot prove that the tree exists.
And I’ll give you a bit of scientific knowledge I picked up which has helped me. Did you know that matter is held in a quantum wave state until it is observed? Matter only exists as matter when it is being observed. I don’t know all the scientific details of that phenomenon, but it has greatly helped me in my contemplation on life being a dream.
Is life a dream?
Enlightenment is the most direct way you can meet God. By meeting your true self you have met God and looked God in the eye.
The eye of God pervades all of existence.
Who knows what lies in the nonexistence part of existence. Think about it, the infinite nothingness is infinite. We all know and see somethingness but we can’t see how nothingness works. I like to keep an open mind to all the possibilities of what lies beyond the eye of God, but no matter what, I can feel God’s presence as an infinite loving being which all beings live in, God is basically everythingness and nothingness in one, and I have a direct connection to that everythingness and nothingness through the true self.
In one paragraph, I’ve just left enough food for thought to feed Africa. But it should always come down to “what do I know” and “what don’t I know”.
Contemplate that, and then just keep contemplating everything in the general directions I’ve pointed, and contemplate how they are relevant to you. Let the epiphanies roll in. Stage 2 should take weeks or months. Take your time, be free, and investigate your own freedom.
Feel free to ask questions in the forum.
Stage 3: Nonduality
Stage 1 and 2 have prepared you so that you could hear the absolute truth of nonduality and understand it.
So far we have established that there is:
A: the true self, formless awareness pervading all.
And B: the appearances happening inside the awareness.
Yes, A and B are light and dark. They are opposites. But they are not actually two things pervading each other. They are one. When we say “all is consciousness”, we really mean it. Consciousness doesn’t just surround every thing, every thing IS part of consciousness. There is just one limitless, nondual being, and that is YOU.
A + B = YOU
So the true self is just one half of what you are. This absolute truth can bring about a relief. Somehow it just hits the nail of the head.
It is important to note that this doesn’t render Stage 1 and 2 pointless. On the contrary. Both the separated perspective and the unified perspective are representative of truth. You still have an unchanging self. The self is like a TV screen, the appearances are like the light that hits the screen. The screen and the light become one, yet the screen is never affected by the light.
You’re going to have to mellow this one out naturally. It’s very simple, and it looks like it changes everything but really it changes nothing.
Feel free to ask questions in the forum.
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