The two stages in the spiritual journey

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by Datta Upasaka, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. Datta Upasaka

    Datta Upasaka Member

    Broadly speaking, there are two stages in the spiritual journey.

    The first stage is the realization and attainment of the self [Atman], which is undisturbed pure awareness like standstill water. This pure awareness vibrates when it is associated with worldly bonds. These vibrations are called by many names such as Gunas, Samskaras, Vasanas, feelings and thoughts.

    When you detach yourself from all the external worldly bonds and also withdraw yourself from the gross body, you are confined to the soul. Due to the detachment, these vibrations also disappear and only the undisturbed soul remains. If you confine yourself to this undisturbed soul by fixing your ‘I’ to it [by identifying yourself with it], this stage is called as self-realisation or self-attainment. This is the first stage.

    However this stage is only the fifth stage of Asthanga Yoga of Patanjali. According to Patanjali’s system, this stage is known as Pratyahara, meaning the complete withdrawal of yourself. Self-attainment is possible by identifying the original nature of the self and by removing its superimpositions. The soul superimposes itself on the gross body and also on its vibrations known as subtle body. When these superimpositions are removed, the worldly bonds, which are nothing but strong feelings, also disappear. All worries disappear as well. Only perfect mental peace remains.

    The body and the mind are interlinked. A peaceful mind leads to a perfectly healthy body. Hanuman achieved this stage by attaining a sound mind in a sound body. By this, one's capacity of logical analysis (buddhi) also improves.

    The attainment of the self is a prerequisite or qualification for the second part of the journey. Shankara stressed on this first stage for atheists, who are the beginners in the spiritual path. The second part of the journey is the attainment of the Super-Self (God) in human form and pleasing Him with selfless service. Hanuman is the best example in both the parts of the journey.

    For a beginner, the first half of the journey is stressed upon and encouragement is given to him/her by stating that the intermediate station, which is the goal of the first half of the journey, itself is the final goal. The second half of the journey is not mentioned for an atheist. Thus for encouragement, the self itself is proclaimed as the super-self. This proclamation also coincides with [be suitable to] the nature of the atheists who do not believe in God separately [other than themselves].

    All the atheists are encouraged to take up the first half of the journey. After all, even an atheist likes to be peaceful and without stress in his/her life. The attainment of the self is a qualification to serve the Super-Self. It is only a rank in the entrance examination, which gives you the eligibility to study the professional course. A rank in the entrance examination is not a rank in the professional degree.

    Normally, we encourage students by saying that if he gets a good rank in the entrance examination, he has already become an engineer. The fact that the student needs to study hard during the engineering course after getting a rank in the entrance examination is hidden for the sake of encouragement. By getting a rank in the entrance examination, one should not feel that he has attained the post of an engineer without actually studying the engineering course.

    The fruit of self-achievement is salvation. Salvation means relief from all the worries and this step is not at all related to God. Even an atheist wants salvation but not kaivalyam. Kaivalyam means the attainment of God. God is pleased with selfless service. Selfless service is possible only if you have attained the self by self-realization.

    The atheist who has completed the first half of the journey and obtained salvation thinks that he has attained God because he is of the view that the Self itself is God. This misinterpretation can be clarified by studying the life story of Hanuman because even though He was the first rank holder of the first half of the journey, He never claimed that Self is God. He exemplified the second part of the journey by catching the living human incarnation (Lord Rama) and by pleasing Him through selfless service.


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