Don't mistake "Success" in "Practice" for Awareness.

Ahimsananda's picture

Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

I think one of the pitfalls of 'practices" is that the "practices" become ends in themselves, or worse still, substitutes for the end result.

This applies to all practices that are external or internal, silent or active. Ultimately, practices are useless for "finding" Truth". But one would be foolish to avoid "practices" in the early stages. Most "practices" are designed to "calm" the mind. Some are designed to stimulate the mind; point it in a useful direction. But none is an end in itself.

As a Christian Monk, I meditated, and engaged in contemplative prayer for many years. This was not time wasted or spent in delusion, at least not for the most part! Time spent at the Eucharist, likewise was very useful. Contemplating these mysteries quiets the mind and opens the "heart". But they do not lead to "ultimate" truth.

Nisargadatta's "I AM" is a supreme "practice". But it leads only to "consciousness". Now I don't mean to discount consciousness. It is a wonderful state. But we seek the "Pearl of Great Price"; union with God.

All of this "practice" is beneficial because it quiets the mind, or opens the mind to "useful" pointers. But there is an additional pitfall in "practice", and that is this very thing; this "quieting" of the mind. The mind needs to be "quiet", empty of everything, particularly you. When we reach this state of quietness, where we see that we are the "observer". Then, and only then, can we find our way to being "observing". But we must not mistake this "quietness" of "practice", for Awareness, which is dynamic.

I'm a simple guy, so I use simple analogies. One of my favorites is the observing of the "verb" rather than the "noun". This has been dismissed as simplistic. Words are words it is said. This is true, and we all understand the inadequacy of words. But words are part of the functioning of the One, so we need not discount them, or else resort to silence. By using this "simplistic" analogy, I attempt to point out the difference in being a static noun, or an active verb. We are not a "thing". We are "life" itself; ever changeless and dynamically changing.

I did not mean to go into that again, but I wanted to point out that "observing" is what is "happening", rather then there being an "observer", or an "observed". It is not just semantics. Meditate on it.

In the Christian Church, "practices" from the Eucharist to contemplative prayer, are designed to quite the mind and eventually eliminate the "you". This is done, so that the mind and body will be open to the "grace" of God. There is no "controlling" this "grace", we can only be "open" to it by quieting the body and mind. In the East, I believe, "practices" are used in a similar way, be it meditation or some form of yoga. All of these "practices" result in a quiet mind, and an "awareness" of "consciousness". But at some point the mind, with all of it's "consciousness" (noun), must move to the place of "consciousness"(verb) without the "I AM".

This is how we get stuck; we mistake the "quite", the "nothingness", the "emptiness" we find in our "practice" to be the ultimate, the Absolute. We love this quiet. We love to imagine this quite, this freedom from "mind", is the Awakening. We rest in the "I AM", unconcerned that there is still an "I". The "idea" of an "I" is a noun, a thing. We earnestly long for Awareness, not as a "noun" to hold on to, but as a verb, to BE.

Dwelling in quietness or "consciousness", wonderful as it is, is only for practice. If we imagine a "quietness", a "stillness", or a "emptiness", the mind is happy to oblige with one from our imagination, or from the memory of our "practice". But the "awakening" is not something we can get our mind around. It is not a thing. No "I", No "Self", but the ever flowing Love.

suzame's picture

great essay!

you pinpoint one of the most popular pitfalls in the spiritual world. people mistake means and actions for the being. excellent and inspiring description, thank you!

suzame | Sat, 07/10/2010 - 21:09
Asanga's picture


Thank you.
I am, yet I am not...

Asanga | Sun, 07/11/2010 - 07:48
B-friend's picture


Know what Pure Consciousness is first before you discount it as being unreal. What is the difference between "beingness" and "I am"? "AM" is beingness. "Am" is the verb. For the sake of preaching what you feel, you obscure what you already comprehend.

Having a Christian background, and probably a devout one at that, why get people to discount their Soul so easily? Let them know their Soul, and as Soul, let them know their Heaven.

B-friend | Sun, 07/11/2010 - 19:32
Ahimsananda's picture

Soul is only a wonderful idea in the mind.

Namaste B-friend,

"Having a Christian background, and probably a devout one at that, why get people to discount their Soul so easily? Let them know their Soul, and as Soul, let them know their Heaven."

In no way is anyone's Soul discounted. We learn many things as we move from meditation to self inquiry and beyond. Hopefully much is learned about the Soul, but while they enjoy, get entranced by, "their" Heaven, they may miss "being" in God's.

Soul is not separate from God, Love, but it is not a separate "thing" anymore than they are. The Soul lives in the mind. It is our mind's image of "ourselves" as God, or at least; God's. But the reality is our Soul IS God, Love.

The earnest seeker tames fear and comfort and moves beyond this "heaven" to face the unfolding unknown.

By the way, I have no problem with the "beingness" in "I AM". It's the "I". Beingness is all there is, no "I". This has been my point all along about the noun, verb thing. We need to remove the nouns, even love as a noun, to see we ARE Beingness, not "I" am "being" beingness.

I am sorry that you feel I am "preaching", but you have placed yourself within hearing, and I only have what is given.


Ahimsananda | Sun, 07/11/2010 - 21:30
B-friend's picture

yeah yeah

Blah Blah Blah...Ideas in the mind...blah blah blah


If you want to be a self procaimed advaita guru who connects Christianity to Advaita then you're gonna have to deal with people who don't care to be sheep. If anything that is said is only going to force you to run in circles to blind yourself from reasoning, then there is no point in conversing with anything you have to say. It just puts you in a worse position as you try to prove and to convince yourself of your correctness and that you are an "Advaita Guru".

Many feel the call to preach in the Christian tradition. There are hundreds of thousands who do so throughout the world. I see nothing wrong with one of them connecting Christianity with Advaita to get beck to Christ's teachings, but, that's not your intent. So go ahead and water down The Realized just as history and preachers have done Christianity.

Go on then, have fun and play, and gather those sheep. Just be careful of those who don't care to be prey and who enjoy being self proclaimed assholes.

...And you seemed like an intelligent human being. Too bad you have no idea who you are.(yeah i said the word idea)

There's got to be at least one Realized out there...Speak up already.

B-friend | Sun, 07/11/2010 - 23:36
Ahimsananda's picture


May the Peace that passeth all understanding be with you.


Ahimsananda | Mon, 07/12/2010 - 00:06
joejo's picture

Realisation of Self

I have followed Ramana & must say that you havn't got it right as to what the practice is which is advocated by him and some clarifications in his own words:

“Therefore,making the corpse-body remain as a corpse, and not even uttering the word ‘I’, one should enquire keenly thus: “Now, what is it that rises as ‘I’?” Then, there would shine in the Heart a kind of wordless illumination of the form ‘I-I’. That is, there would shine of its own accord the pure consciousness which is unlimited and one, the limited and the many thoughts having disappeared. If one remains quiescent without abandoning that (experience), the egoity, the individual sense, of the form ‘I am the body’ will be totally destroyed, and at the end the final thought, viz., the ‘I-form’ also will be quenched like the fire that burns camphor.1 The great sages and scriptures declare that this alone is release.”

“In the Heart-lotus which is of the nature of all, in other words in the mind-ether, the light of that Self in the form ‘I’ shines. As it shines thus in everybody, this very Self is referred to as the witness (sakshi) and the transcendent (turiya, literally the fourth). The ‘I-less’ Supreme Brahman which shines in all bodies as interior to the light in the form ‘I’ is the Self-ether (or knowledge-ether): that alone is the Absolute Reality.”

“D: Is Self-experience possible for the mind, whose nature
is constant change?
M: Since sattva guna (the constituent of prakriti which
makes for purity, intelligence, etc.) is the nature of mind, and since the mind is pure and undefiled like ether, what is called mind is, in truth, of the nature of knowledge. When it stays in that natural (i.e. pure) state, it has not even the name ‘mind’.
It is only the erroneous knowledge which mistakes one for
another that is called mind.”

joejo | Tue, 07/13/2010 - 15:45
Ahimsananda's picture

Don't give all quotes - What do you think?

Namaste joejo,

For all of my looking, I could not find any mention of Ramana. or his practices in my post.

Please tell me, in your own words, what you find in Ramana, that is in conflict?

I wrote what I wrote, in my own words. I can only reveal what is given to me. I can only reveal it in my own way. There is no point in my repeating Ramana. He has been heard, or you will tell of him. Ramana and I may differ. Neither of us minds.


Ahimsananda | Tue, 07/13/2010 - 18:54
joejo's picture

Objective Consciousness


Its and interesting exchange and would like to benefit from your experience. I understand the need to be not stuck in ever trying to become, struggle, meditate as subject and object. I agree that all practices are aimed at quietening the mind. Yet the nature of consciousness as propounded in Advaitic lore is not fully understood by you.

The noun and the verb are the achala & chala, non-movement & movement aspect of the same reality. Shiva and Shakti are the twin aspects of the same reality.

The nature of pure mind is that is allows the view of reality without distortion. This pure mind is like a calm lake on which can be seen the reflection of sun. Nothing needs to be done thereafter as the normal ego which tries to do looses is grip. Reaching the state of I AM is all that is required to be done and all that happens thereafter is not in ones hand. This state is only reached in flashes. Beyond this the path of surrender or enquiry merge.

So the path could be described as:

Objective Truth ----- I AM------Sujective consciousness (our dream state)

Cristian mystism is also not monolithic. The fathers of eastern church have been known to practice invoking this practice of I ( Gurdjieff). I would also like to draw your attention to

BTW what about the holy trinity and its relation to the noun and the verb -- the spirit and soul.

joejo | Wed, 07/14/2010 - 00:32
Ahimsananda's picture


I wish I had the knowledge you express in your comment. I have not read a great deal of Advaitic lore, some Sankara, a couple of Upanishads. I have read most of Nisargadatta's dialogs.

What I write is based on experience. I spent much of my life working with the poor, the mentally ill, and the Developmentally Disabled. I learned more from these "Guru's" than I had in simply studying scripture, or kneeling before the presence.

I am a simple man. I concentrated on a Passage from the Avadhuta Gita of Dattatreya:

Chapter 1 : 2 "How shall I salute the formless Being,indivisible, auspicious, and immutable, who fills all this with His Self and also fills the self with His Self?"

I held this in my heart and mind for a decade or more, until the answer came, and a life changing "experience". I realized that there was no "me" and no "God", just the connection of Love. And I was that Love. Not love, as a noun, but Love as a verb, the movement of impersonal Love. It unfolds like a new leaf, only ever expanding.

This did not come from a book. I have only an 11th grade education. This came from direct experience. It may not "jive" with Ramana or Advaitic lore, but it is what has been presented, and is experienced every day.


Ahimsananda | Wed, 07/14/2010 - 01:17