Moderator: A question from a participant in Thailand: “Is devotion and focused sadhana necessary for awakening, or is skaktipat enough?”
David: This would depend on your definition of enlightenment. If you define enlightenment as simply an increase of frequency and energy, to the point of non-dual realization then it is enough. But, if you want to discuss the feeling process as part of enlightened awakening, then it is not enough. In that case devotion is required. It’s required as I said, because of the nature of the emotions and the feeling process of the individual, that those also begin to have a high frequency of experience and perception.
Moderator: “Thank you.”
David: Let me elaborate further on this topic. From my viewpoint, it is not enough to attain mere energy-based realization. It is necessary to bring the emotions and the intellect and even the conventional mind, which involves itself in understanding contemporary affairs, such as what’s going on in the world, into the process of realization, forming a whole. So, realization for me is not just about some subjective attainment. In traditional Advaita circles it is only about that. It is only about the realization of the Self which is Pure Consciousness. But, if we enlarge the discussion into realms of feeling, intuition, devotion, mental understanding and understanding of the way thinking itself occurs, then it’s a different discussion. So, I favor this more all-inclusive understanding of realization.
I talk about three major areas in realization, which are both the major paths leading to self-awakening, and the various flavors that emerge out of awakening once it is realized. They happen to be the same thing. On the one hand, as you move into the Self there are three basic avenues that can move you in, which is light or silence, feeling or devotion and energy or Shaktipat. Once one realizes the nature of consciousness, the nature of the mind, the nature of the universe, then these three qualities can stream out as well, light, feeling, energy. And included in this discussion is bliss, bliss, light, feeling, energy, various forms of euphoria and transcendental intoxications as the mind exhibits its freedom from time and space that it has come into a trans-temporal understanding and experience of reality. So, light, feeling and energy form a thorough discussion, not a conclusive discussion, but a very wide-ranging discussion around this topic of realization.
The classical Advaitists want to reduce enlightenment to just silence, just the silence of the mind and the experience of no Self. Classical Shakti teachings want to reduce enlightenment to energy and any energy-based experiences, such as the opening of the chakra system and so on. Devotional paths, devotional teachings stress the expression and cultivation of adorational sentiments and the expression of realization as finally an adorational moment in life or a series of moments where you are worshiping something, regarding something as supreme and bowing to it and so on. Included in that last area is divine intoxication, showing the signs of profound bhakti, of love, or para -bhakti, supreme love toward a supreme object of adoration which is kept in tact. On the devotional path the object of love is kept in tact. On the Advaita path the object of love is dissolved into pure subjectivity. On the energetic path the object of love is typically the guru who radiates Shakti or the master, and one becomes fused into the energy that is offered by the master of Shaktipat.
So, when you look at this wide-ranging discussion you can see that it’s pretty complex and this is the model that I consult to discuss realization and its potential effects on the human being. So, from my point of view I do not consider anyone fully realized, even if they are fully realized on one path. That might sound a bit strange even contradictory, but for me these three avenues represent different aspects of the human being itself. We can’t even imagine a human being that is enlightened to the point of perfection on the path of light without thinking that the person also has some emotional features. It’s only a textbook style enlightenment that will be one or the other in its purity, light, feeling or energy. So, when we talk about real life, when we’re in real time, you have a whole human being with a mind, a heart and a body. All of these things have to become sufficiently informed about the divine reality. Otherwise, we don’t have a whole person functioning inside this state. So, therefore, it’s even possible to be functioning in a kind of imbalanced state while having realized that which is beyond the body-mind. That understanding that I just expressed in the last sentence is important to understand, since what I’m talking about here is holistic development on every level of existence and not just some subjective certainty about the nature of the mind.
But, none of this should really imply a discussion around what enlightenment might finally look like, since that itself is a mystery even after all three avenues are accessed. So, we can’t form or preform a vision of this ideal human being and then try to run after it. We can only live into these processes in our own existence to the point where perfections are noticed and seen and then embodied. So, in order for all of those things to happen, all three channels have to be working together, light, feeling and energy. And again, I don’t consider anyone, even with the highest amount of Shakti or the deepest realization of emptiness to be enlightened. I absolutely am against the viewpoint that that could be considered enlightenment, because it’s only about some kind of exemplary feature, or specific area being activated. Now, I’m not putting it down, but in terms of a discussion of full realization I cannot exalt that point of view. It just wouldn’t be true or fair to say such a thing. At the same time, given the predicament of the human race, even if you can actualize any one of these paths of realization you’ve done well, and you are doing well. But, one should always aspire for a more holistic viewpoint. One should not be happy just with a certain amount of Shakti, a certain amount of silence, a certain amount of bliss or devotional feeling. One should keep moving in these areas until a really distinct and extraordinary sense of completeness arises. So, this really transcends this discussion, any kind of solipsistic understanding of consciousness, any kind of reductionism.
Moderator: Question from a different viewer: “Does the process of enlightenment have any correlation with the development of siddhis such as clairvoyance, telekinesis and so forth?”
David: That would fall under the rubric of energy. Siddhis are energetic phenomena happening inside of awakened consciousness and also of course, the body is involved with these abilities. They are reflections of openings into the subtle aspects of mind and body. Things like omniscience, knowing the future, discerning omens or signs that are arising in the environment, which are communicating something directly about the nature of reality, all of these features and areas have to do with the development of siddhis. They are part of the natural unfoldment of the enlightened state, yes. But, they are not a distinct requirement either. They can unfold. For some, they will unfold. For others, they might not unfold. It’s really not an important point ultimately. But, because you asked the question, I’ve answered it to the best of my knowledge and ability.
Moderator: Question from a participant in Santa Monica, California: “Could tantra at its purest be considered a fourth path, or would you include it within one of the three?”
David: Well, tantra is really what I’ve been describing to you, if you want to use the term tantra which is the interweaving, the interweaving of light, feeling and energy inside an embodied being. That is what tantra is. Tantra means many things. It can mean wholeness. It has several definitions. You can look it up on the internet. But, it’s basic thrust is toward embodiment, in the relationship of embodiment with that which transcends it. And that has to do with the displaying, physical, emotional, mental qualities that are activated throughout the body-mind due to awakening and then into relationship, into a horizontal display. Transcendence is a vertical happening, but tantra refers to the full circle or sphere of awakening where others are involved, where action is involved. Feelings are deciphered and shared. But, I don’t consider it a fourth path on its own. It certainly is a special subject matter and worthy of discussion, but it’s not a fourth path.
When we talk about anything having to do with the fourth, it’s always toward transcendence. The word turia in Sanskrit means the fourth. So, if you’re looking for this sort of fourth ultimate category, we have to revert back to that which is absolute, and that reduces this discussion back toward invisibility, towards something that can’t be known or understood. But, that’s where the fourth goes. So, there’s something higher than the fourth, but it’s in going backwards that we get it, not by going deeper into what looks like a higher level of realization. It’s coming back toward bodily existence, which is inherently problematic and learning how to live there. This is quite a topic really. People think of perfection as moving further away, further and further away from bodily existence toward some imagined spiritual reality, but that’s not the case at all. Spirituality ultimately turns back on itself, and becomes a human discussion, totally human, painfully human. So, that is why we have to go into the subject matter mapped out by tantra as it’s discussed in traditional literature. But, I think you all know that no matter what has been written down in terms of traditional texts, it’s not always conclusive. In other words, there’s always something that you have to just discover freshly and you can’t know ahead of time what that’s going to be, no matter how much you read. It’s your life that unfolds that truth on a day to day basis. That also is what is meant by tantra, living out of the enlightened state. Not the attaining of it, but the living out day-by-day of an unmapped existence.
Moderator: A question David from a participant in Washington, “The Shakti expanded out of my crown, and has been in a descending motion going to the heart. I feel no devotion or love. Do outward acts of love or intention help in opening a spiritual heart?
David: Just remain with what is. Be natural to your experience. It’s best not to think of how to make things better, when if you are correct in your assessment, so much is happening. You will be led spontaneously to the next step or the next phase of understanding or experience spontaneously. That’s how the spiritual process works.
It might also be the case that you experience love and devotion spontaneously, like a wave, like a breeze, spontaneously without any idea that it should happen, or even can happen. Therefore, I suggest just letting things flow naturally.
Moderator: Question from a participant in San Diego, “What is total dissolution, and how can I be in it?”
David: If it was total, you would not be in it. I suggest that you simply remain attentive here, placing your attention carefully moment by moment on what is. Just letting whatever happens, happen. That way if dissolution appears it will happen spontaneously, without any effort, without any noticing. By dissolution is meant disappearing into consciousness, but as to who or what disappears, we’re not interested in technical questions or even how it occurs. That’s just another technical consideration. So, by remaining easily present with yourself here and letting your mind respond to the atmosphere that is created, something is bound to occur spontaneously.
One other point, it could be that dissolution is not on the menu for you right now or even ever. But, something is available through our relationship. Something will be given that is relevant and which arises spontaneously in the course of events. This is a one-to-one relationship we have here. It’s intimate. So, it’s best not to think of some potential voyage outside of what’s happening between us. What is suggested is having an attitude of innocent openness or simple innocence. In that area gifts are offered, spontaneous, spiritual, meditative, energetic gifts.