Q. What are the stages of awakening?

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.

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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.

 

 

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Purification and spiritual practices after realisation

…even when the separate self has been seen to be an illusion, and the Freedom that is already here-now has been fully recognised, various habitual tendencies that were originally contingent upon the belief in separation can continue to persist. These habitual tendencies (vasanas in sanskrit) can continue to compel the apparent individual to seek fulfillment in external objects and result in continued suffering at the psychological and physical level, even though Freedom has already been realised.

There can therefore be an important process of post-realisation integration or practice in which these habitual tendencies or vasanas are rooted out and the habit of the mind to imagine itself to be a separate self is removed. Whilst much of this may happen spontaneously, it has been my experience that pointing this out to seekers even once they have realised ‘no-self’ can be of great benefit in alleviating suffering on the phenomenal level post-realisation.

In fact, it is only once the compulsive vasanas have been rooted out that love, compassion and happiness fully manifest themselves on the phenomenal level. I talk about this more here.

The above is an excerpt from a longer post that can be found here.