Question: So there are two stages in the path to liberation? (1) Realizing all is one and (2) abiding as the Self until vasanas (egoic habitual tendencies) are rooted out?
Tom: The Vedanta scriptures generally describe 3 or 4 stages in the path to liberation:
1. Sravana (listening to the teachings) – this leads to a theoretical understanding
2. Manana (contemplating the teachings in a relatively quiet mind) – this leads to direct or experiential understanding in the mind/intellect. Many mistake this for full realisation as there is much freedom from suffering here, the truth of no-self is often seen, but unethical behaviour and subtle identification with the body-mind continues, as does the associated suffering. The scriptures warn about mistaking this for full realisation, but of course many never read the actual scriptures themselves.
3. Nididhyasana (meditation) – this is abiding until the vasanas are rooted out
4. Samadhi – this is the natural culmination of meditation/nididhyasana, also known as Silence/Mauna, in which the most sticky vasanas (habitual egoic tendencies) and the depths of ignorance are rooted out.
Almost everyone apparently goes through these stages and they naturally flow one to another even if you have never heard of them.
Read Vivekachudamani or Advaita Bodha Deepika for more information – it’s all in there.
Interestingly you will find the same stages in Buddhist teachings using almost exactly the same language.