Writings – On Self-Realization and Advaita Vedanta

By David Spero

Sadhana, or spiritual practices fulfill themselves– or terminate – in Self- realization. The realization of Pure Consciousness extinguishes sadhana as the realization of the Self.

A one-pointed focus precedes the mind’s merger into Consciousness (the Self), a condensation of attention and energy, through which the mind rises or sinks into the Self. Essentially, the mind learns to cherish and dwell upon one single thought or feeling, which allows the mind to merge into Bliss. This profound focus can be cultured through meditation, discrimination, action or devotion.

As long as one has not attained full Self-Realization, the mind must be brought back to that ultimate focus, which brings calmness, equanimity, and peace. In order to catch a glimpse of the Self, the mind must remain still.

As spiritual experiences unfold during sadhana the best attitude is to inquire, “to whom is this revelation happening?” or “who is seeing this phenomenon?” To actualize that reflex of Heart-Felt questioning, which turns the mind perpetually back on itself without answers, will become the path of great liberation. The activation of sincere and spontaneous inquiry will deliver the mind into the Bliss it is seeking.

It must, however, be clearly understood from the start that ongoing Self- Realization is not a conditional state of awareness. It is not a state to be grasped or held by the mind. In a Luminous Ignorance not seen, known, or understood, the Atman swallows the mind.

The mind, an adequate measuring instrument for external reality, cannot view the Immeasurable. If one lacks this clear understanding, there may remain a tendency for the aspirant to want to feel the Self or the Witness (an intimation of the Self’s presence), again and again.

For some aspirants there may linger, even after Self-realization, a compulsion to re-experience the Self, as though the Self comes and goes, or stays, like an ordinary object of attention, until the house of ignorance is blown away once and for all by the incalculable Grace of the Self, or the Master. Rightly understood, the Self exists nowhere. It is neither temporary nor permanent.

Can one really speak accurately on this subject of advaita Vedanta? To do so one must speak from and about the Self simultaneously. But when speaking about the Self one can only do so in a spirit of metaphorical insinuations.

To speak about the Self is not the same thing as knowing the Self. Fire is fire and ashes remain ashes. To speak about the Self is to re-enter the mind that has been transcended in the Self. This potent paradox lies at the heart of teaching or communicating the reality of advaita Vedanta.

You could say, however, in a roundabout way, that when the Self is realized one has tacitly acknowledged, through direct experience, That which does not change, which has no attributes, which cannot be made an object of perception.

Accordingly, when the residue of the Self sticks within the mind, day and night, night and day, then Self-Realization has dawned. The Self remains attribute-less and utterly free, since it cannot be located in time and space. You cannot assign It any quality. It is indescribable, unidentifiable. It is the characteristic of unidentifiable-ness that truly describes the flavor of Self-realization.

Advaita Vedanta remains just as it translates, “not two/beyond knowledge”; not a lineage, organization, movement or tradition, not represented by anyone or anything, Its samadhi tastes indescribable.

The door to the bliss of the Self can be opened through any sadhana or none. When it opens, the door dissolves and the unending Bliss of the Self shines.