I - Self Realisation and Non-Duality
We are all suffering from mistaken identity – taking ourselves to be someone we are not. The goal of psycho-spiritual development is to correct this mistaken identity; not to strengthen or improve our false identity. The self that we think we are does not exist; it is a figment of our imagination. The self that we think we are cannot awaken – we have to awaken from that false-self in order to realise our true-Self. When this occurs, we realise that we have always been our true-Self.
Our inner journey takes us through the labyrinth of our ego structures to discover our true-Self (at the core of our being). A labyrinth differs from a maze in that it only has one path which leads to the centre, so the path is already mapped out for us – all we have to do is walk it. If we stop resisting and controlling, the flow of life will naturally carry us to our destination. Some parts of the journey will be tough and others will be wonderful, but they will all be experiential opportunities for the reintegration, development and liberation of our consciousness.
Figure 24: The Labyrinth – Symbolic Depictions of the Ego Super-Structure
The most effective way of journeying through the labyrinth of our ego structures is to do so with conscious awareness and presence, because then we can process the psychological material (i.e. dissolve the ego structures and reintegrate our consciousness) as we encounter it. Then, when we finally reach the core of our being and realise our true-Self, we can be confident that we will not relapse back into ego-identification because the ego will have largely been dissolved.
Temporary self-realisation is the result of jumping to the core of our being (e.g. through intense will) without dissolving the ego structures. If this occurs, it is only a matter of time before the lure of the ego pulls us back out again, because too many ego structures remain for the Self-realisation to be permanent.
Seeking Self-realisation before we are ready is unwise because we are seeking freedom from something (i.e. the false-self) that we still require for our development. However, our conditioning can cause us to remain misidentified with the ego-self longer than necessary. So here are a few simple things that we can do to loosen our identification with our ego-self:
The Path to Self-Realisation
In early childhood, if something authentic (e.g. an essential quality or our true-Self) is not acknowledged and mirrored back to us by our parents, we presume it is unimportant so we repress it and develop ego structures that will help us cope without it. Psycho-spiritual development is about reversing that process – removing the blockages, bringing things into the light and turning the repression into expression. Self-realisation only becomes possible when sufficient psychological "undoing" has been completed – when our conditioning has been neutralised and our awareness has been purified (i.e. dis-identified from exiles and ego structures).
Even though Self-realisation is an instant event, there are several stages leading up to it that can be used to gauge our progress and guide us onto the next stage of our journey:
In a deep meditation we might be able to reach stage 3 or 4, but in our everyday lives we may only be at stage 1 or 2. This is quite normal, but we can bring these higher states of consciousness into our everyday lives through Conscious Living (see Chapter 4) and Living Presence (see Chapter 6). When we reach stage 3 or 4 in our meditation practice we can start practicing spiritual Self-inquiry (see Chapter 6); prior to that it is more beneficial to practice personal self-inquiry (see Chapter 4).
Self-realisation results in non-dualistic perception – a direct and intimate unity with everything we encounter. But what does it really mean and how does it work?
Figure 25: Dualistic Perception
Figure 26: Non-Dualistic Perception
Separation and duality are learning experiments. The Self becomes identified with the false ego-self in order to experience duality – to experience life from a different, separate, non-unified perspective. When we have learnt all we can from separation and duality we will naturally return to unity and non-duality (i.e. Self-realisation).
The Mechanics of Self-Realisation
Figure 27 shows the relationships between the authentic personality and the true-Self, the true-Self and the false-self, and the false-self and the ego-personality. The numbered blocks at the bottom of the diagram correspond to the following numbered points:
1. Collectively, the mind, heart and body constitute the authentic personality.
2. (Prior to enlightenment) the true-Self is the core of the authentic personality.
3. But the true-Self has lost sight of its true nature and believes it is the false-self (self-image).
4. The false-self is the core of the ego personality.
Figure 27: Self-Realisation
The more ego structures we dissolve, the more authentic consciousness is liberated. This gradually shifts the balance of power from the false-self and the ego-personality to the true-Self and the authentic personality. Self-realisation becomes possible when the balance of power has shifted in favour of the true-Self and authentic personality.
Self-realisation (full or partial) is always accompanied by a shift in our essential identity. If there is no shift in our essential identity we are just having a spiritual experience. Even a partial Self-realisation can be so profound that it feels like enlightenment (which is the cause of much misunderstanding around the subject).
Four Levels of Self-Realisation
There are 4 levels of Self-realisation, and the level realised is directly related to the Self's level of development (i.e. whether it is centred in the belly, heart, head or soul). If the Self awakens to its true nature when it is centred in the personality (belly, heart or head), the realisation will only be partial. Partial Self-realisation is much more common than full Self-realisation (enlightenment). Partial Self-realisation is waking up to one dimension of Self (will, love or knowing), waking up to one dimension of reality (physical, emotional or mental) and waking up from one set of illusions (physical, emotional or mental). Only the dimension of Self related to its location is realised; the other dimensions of Self remain un-realised:
Life After Self-Realisation
Many of the things that I am about to describe are often experienced for short periods of time prior to Self-realisation, as we are given glimpses of what our lives could be like:
Note: Only some of the above are experienced after a partial Self-realisation, depending on which dimension of Self awakens.
Common Misconceptions After Self-Realisation
Partial Self-realisation can result in misconceptions about the nature of reality because we think we have awakened to the fullness of reality, but actually we have only awakened to one dimension of reality. Henry T Laurency wrote, in The Knowledge of Life Part 5, "The evolutionary way of man consists of a series of 'awakenings' and at these he is seized with the desire to throw 'overboard' all that he has acquired so far... This only shows how far he has still to go before he becomes one with all." This section explains a few of the common misconceptions:
Common Difficulties After Self-Realisation
The profound shift in our identity that accompanies Self-realisation can give rise to some difficulties:
Generally, the more ego structures (false qualities) that remain at the time of Self-realisation the more difficulties will be encountered. So it is advisable to do the inner work first and allow Self-realisation to occur naturally, when we are truly ready.
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