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TOPIC: Why spiritual growth doesn't lead to enlightenment

Why spiritual growth doesn't lead to enlightenment 04 Mar 2016 23:42 #102841

Interesting piece by Hareesh Wallis (Kashmir Shaivite / Nondual Saiva Tantra teacher, I did his Deity Yoga online course last year):

Why spiritual growth does not lead to enlightenment

I don't 100% agree with everything here by any means - and it seems to bust awakening down to something realistic only to set up a new bar, 'jivanmukti' - but some thought provoking passages - and perhaps also soem by-the-by insight on why different people experience different levels of turbulence upon waking up in the three-stage Tantric/Trika model Hareesh presents
Now, despite fanciful stories about 'sudden enlightenment', this doesn't happen overnight. Just as it can take you a while to wake up from physical sleep before you're fully awake and clear, in the same way, once you've touched into the truth of your Being, you have to keep touching in and deepening your awareness of Awareness for months or years before it becomes your default state. In that process, there is a kind of growth that is necessary: reaching a level of maturity where you know what you really want and your daily-life actions reflect your heart's deepest longing. In other words, you have to grow up enough to get out of your own way and make room for the awakening process to unfold. But this kind of growth is a necessary ancillary to awakening, not its cause.

...First wake up to what you really are, then integrate that realization into all the aspects of your life. Waking up is actually the easy part compared to integration, but way harder than both is trying to integrate a realization you haven't really had yet.

If you don't do the work of integration, even if you're centered in your divine core, you're not really benefitting anyone else. This is important. Some people wake up to their real nature and then dismiss the body-mind and its problems rather than work with them. This is called 'transcendentalism' by my teachers (and 'spiritual bypassing' by others), because such people seek to simply transcend the body-mind.
Last Edit: 04 Mar 2016 23:42 by every3rdthought.
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Why spiritual growth doesn't lead to enlightenment 05 Mar 2016 06:46 #102842

Thanks for this. I like reading how different systems describe this work. It's interesting to me how if you have a good grounding in personal practice (and the benefit of talking with others) it's possible to look across traditions and decode their use of language and find connections with other systems.

I get the feeling that in the write up "awakening" in the writer's context is quite similar to vipassina mindfulness and the idea of the witness: "Rather, it is a paradigm shift in which you stop identifying with the phenomena within Awareness (e.g., thoughts, emotions, body-image, etc.) and wake up to the fact that you are Awareness itself—the only constant in the ever-changing world of your experience." Obviously, good buddhists would take issue of something (a self) being a constant, but if they get all argumentative, they'll miss out out on what is described later in the article, which actually is quite in accord...

It also contains a good caution for A&P like experiences: " I know, you've had powerful experiences in which you tasted your divine essence; but this is really not the same as properly waking up out of the belief that your thoughts, memories, and story have anything to do with who you really are. "

It also contains a good caution for Dark Night like experiences: "It's this simple: you cannot heal the 'broken self' as long as you believe that you are it. Or you can, but it's ridiculously difficult. "

A very good discussion of dealing with reactive patterns and fixations, pretty much the whole of third path: "For most people, this doesn't happen automatically; they need to actually do the work of looking & discarding; or, in the case of saṃskāras or unresolved experiences, looking & digesting; this is a crucial distinction. This explains why some people can be 'enlightened' but unintegrated; and if they become teachers, they usually cause harm. There's a difference between having access to the Light of Awareness (prakāsha) and doing the work of seeing what does and doesn't reflect that light in its fullness (this is called vimarsha, or self-reflection)."

Ultimately, it seems like they are using "awakening" in the same way that we would use mindfulness and witness. I think the jivan-mukta description sounds pretty close to our 4th path or how most of us use the term awakening: Someone who has done a lot of vimarsha and has therefore shed their self-images and digested a lot of their unresolved experiences dwells in a state of freedom called moksha. Such a person is called jīvan-mukta, liberated while still in the body. This is significantly less common than awakening or even abiding-awakening. It is the ultimate goal of the spiritual life, but it's not an attainment since nothing has been attained; rather, something has been lost. It's a state of being truly unburdened and free. But even this is not a terminal state, since there's always more saṃskāras that can be digested and more integration that can be done. Still, there is a tipping point beyond which you could never go back to the state of bondage and delusion. Passing this tipping point is what caused the Buddha to say simply and humbly, kṛtyaṃ kṛtam: that which needed to be done is now done.

I really like how the articulation above finds the same "pragmatic buddhism" conclusion -- that "doneness" is possible, but that doesn't mean that there isn't more that can be done. Yet something previously thought of as essential has been seen through.
Last Edit: 05 Mar 2016 06:51 by shargrol.
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Why spiritual growth doesn't lead to enlightenment 05 Mar 2016 18:55 #102846

It seems the author of that blog is playing a bit with words. Lots of people do that, of course. He's not presenting anything really new to most of the people here on this website. What he is doing is making his thesis sound revolutionary when it's actually what most of us have already experienced.
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Why spiritual growth doesn't lead to enlightenment 05 Mar 2016 19:34 #102847

Spiritual growth doesn't lead to enlightenment, well... until it does. :)
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