Almost all visitors to this site are in the same boat, best described as:
I am not enlightened. What is it and how do I get there?
A second set of questions often arises after being on one path or another for some time, and goes like this:
“Ramana says X, but Nisargadatta says Y, and both are in the same Jnana tradition. Both are completely contradicted by Jidda Krishnamurti and U.G. Krishnamurti. Are any of these similar to Zen understanding or philosophy?”
This kind of questioning usually becomes more and more specific, often in a form such as, "What does Maharaj mean by the Absolute? Is it a conviction or an experience? Is it that state of life-energy beginning at birth until the sense of I AM arises?"
One must understand the central point of the various wisdom traditions is based on the experience of the absolutely silent mind, the experience of Consciousness with the absence of the imaginal space. The imaginal space is imaging clutter that accompanies us everywhere. It is the thinking, visualizing, dreaming, searching, calculating mind cum space.
It is also the imaginal area that object relations analytic psychology has explored theoretically, and it is also the "object" realm of analytic psychotherapies, including Jung, Freud, Klein, etc. At some point all this has to disappear entirely.
The imaginal space also contains all the religions and philosophies ever known to mankind, every bit of scientific knowledge, including atoms, Quarks and Quasars.
It contains what Krishnamurti called the "network of thought," which is a conceptual prison that needs to be transcended by an aspirant.
The concept of I lies "within" the imaginal space, as well as the felt-sense of I Am, which includes the I concept, but also all phenomenon that become attached, identified, or associated with the I concept. This is a "felt" experience, and apparently what Nisargadatta calls the I Am.
Now, every famous guru comes from a tradition, or they latch onto a tradition after enlightenment to explain their realization. Ramana did not “understand” his “experiences,” but found his way of expressing his experience in the Ribhu and other Advaita Gitas.
Robert did not understand what happened to him until he stayed with Ramana.
The same for the other traditions.
On the other hand, when you begin a spiritual search within a tradition, you will be presented with an entire wrapped package. The teacher will spout one or another of a wisdom tradition and will give practices so that you can duplicate their experience ― or understanding.
This happens even in Zen that has no overt philosophy. Most specifically, in the Rinzai tradition there are thousands of koans that “validate” your experiences and direct the next “awakening.” It is a system of non-verbal philosophy buried in systematic practices.
Likewise, if you go to a Hinayana Buddhist teacher, you will be given Thai or Sri Lankan specific teachings and specific practices. You are likely to have similar experiences and give the experiences similar meanings and expressions as all the monks and gurus before you experienced in that tradition.
It has long been recognized that once a student, you “get” the “experiences” and “teachings” of your teacher and his/her tradition.
So, essentially, there is no truth.
All these various wisdom philosophies are merely added on fantasy, including what I wrote on the opening pages of this new site. That section is merely a pointer, not truth. Truth cannot be expressed.
Robert knew this. All to him was appearance. All the philosophies were fantasy. Even Ramana’s philosophy was just one perspective to “validate” a seeker’s experiences and understanding or direct his/her practice. Even Robert felt a need to understand and validate his experiences and understanding.
As I mention the main site, the old site, Robert spent 17 years post enlightenment deepening his understanding of his experiences. As he jokingly stated, he wanted to make sure he had not missed anything.
The common point in all the wisdom traditions is attaining or experiencing the completely silent mind. The epitome of “enlightenment” was not being convinced that no person or I exists as many of the neo Advaitins claim, but experiencing the totally quiet mind.
The first experiences can best be called — if one needs to name or explain them — Samadhi.
There is no mind, self, I, I Am or anything else in Samadhi. There is no experience of a body in Samadhi and the world is completely different in that you recognize that everything you thought “real” before Samadhi is seen to be “unreal,” temporary, a concept only.
The real aim should be to attain an absolutely quiet mind, the silent mind, the Empty Mind of Zen.
However, the effort to attain a silent mind CAN BE as big a hindrance to attaining it as is the ignorance that hides the silent mind.
There are those to whom the silent mind comes spontaneously, as it did to me when I was a child and my mind was beaten about and suffering because of too much thinking.
This can happen to anyone in great mental distress. Spontaneously the mind disappears leaving a totally empty mind, leaving you in complete relief, happiness and bliss. This is usually temporary.
However, repeated practices of deliberately induced Samadhi through various practices lets you know, to an extent, the silent mind and a fundamental state before the personal self and world appear. These are toeholds on liberation, Moksha, enlightenment.
But be very, very careful. Whenever you listen to any teacher, you are getting a philosophy which is not true. It is only a pointer, not the truth.
Ramana and Nisargadatta annunciate “truths” which differ from each other, and the two Krishnamurti's differ from both; but, they all point to the silent mind state. What each makes of that state is a different matter.
So, pick and choose teachers based on your intuition. You have no other choice except perhaps, tossing a coin.
The central truth here is that all expressed truth in the various Gitas by the various gurus are really just mind stuff, imaginal reality that has to go. The essential feature, the goal, is the completely empty, silent mind. What you make of it afterwards is philosophy, "pure" Advaita, neo-Advaita, the dozens of Buddhist philosophies of mind, etc.
One can attain Samadhi and a silent mind rather quickly in strong, one pointed meditation. This is the gateway. I can almost guarantee attaining a first Samadhi within three months, or at most six, given the right sitting and intensity. The best situation is group sitting. You have no idea how much group sitting adds to the efficacy and intensity of the practice.
However, this Samadhi is rather transitory and unstable. The more gradual approaches will/can take a longer time and are much gentler. However, the fall off rate of practitioners is very high.
One more thing, California Advaitins.
There are a lot of neo-Advaitins who scorn practice, and like Papaji, regard enlightenment as no more than looking into one’s sense of existence (I-AM according to Nisargadatta) and seeing no “I” there, with the recognition there is no I. With no I, there is no one to be enlightened and therefore no enlightenment, etc.
This is true to an extent, but release from the imaginal, the recognition of No-I, no I-Am, is not just an insight sort of thing. It must be a complete explosion of the imaginal space due to the recognition of no I, no I Am, which leaves a pristine silent mind. Anything less is useless in the long term, at best it is a precursor.
Now, after "attaining" no mind, the silent mind, abiding in the Absolute or whatever you want to call it, all questions, answers, ideas and concepts disappear. The world and body as solid discrete entities disappears.
However, for almost everyone, there then arises a need to express this silent mind state and then all the nonsense of Advaita, Buddhism, etc., arises.
Hence, be not fooled by Maharaj's words, my words, Ramana's words, George Bush's words. They flow from emptiness spontaneously, but really help anyone very little. They are pointers and not Truth.
At some point you will become absolutely done with teachers and teachings and only want to find your own liberation or truth, and that can not be found in the realm of or by means of thinking. You can't think your way out of your false bondage, but repeated Samadhis are a taste of release.