Essential teachings for liberation: we need a ‘double teaching’ as we suffer from ‘double ignorance’| The ‘two wings’ of the teaching | Buddhism | Vedanta

eagle bird flying soaring
The two wings of the teaching allow one to soar like an eagle, transcending mountains

A ‘Double Ignorance’

We need a ‘double teaching’ as we suffer from a ‘double ignorance’. We could say the teaching has two wings to it, one for each aspect of ignorance. Let me explain: you could say ignorance has 2 steps:

Ignorance step (1) – Structural Ignorance: identifying as this or that. This creates a false notion of self, also known as ego or the jiva. This is also known as a limiting belief or identifying as being a limited entity. The most common form this identification takes is the thought-concept ‘I am the body-mind’. ie. we take the body-mind to be our primary identity. This limited identity is the ego or jiva.

Ignorance step (2) – Functional Ignorance: that ego/jiva, sensing it is limited, vulnerable and incomplete, then seeks pleasure and security in the world of objects. This seeking tendency eventually becomes ingrained and habitual and these habitual egoic tendencies are known as vasanas in Sanskrit.

In Step (1) we create the structure or form of the ego, namely ‘I am the body-mind’. Step (2) represents the movement or function of the ego in which the body-mind entity then goes on to seek security, pleasure, as so on, and is also afraid of death, misfortune, ill health, etc, and so suffers.

So we have described the ego’s form (1) and function (2), or its structure (1) and movement (2).

A ‘Double Teaching’

Each of these aspects of ignorance usually have to be tackled and resolved, so there are two aspects or ‘wings’ of the teaching. Most teachings that one comes across usually focuses only on one of these two wings. This is because on a practical level it is more difficult to teach both together, and many are unaware of how these two aspects of the teaching fit together. But when we do bring both together, the teachings tends to be much more potent in actually pointing the way directly to Moksha/liberation.

So, what are the two aspects of the teaching? Structural ignorance (1) is rectified by insight or knowledge teachings, and functional ignorance (2) is resolved by purification teachings.

Insight teachings basically point out the belief ‘I am a body-mind’ is a false limiting belief. When seen, the illusion of separation and doership naturally fall away. Insight is also known as knowledge, gnosis or realisation

So why do we need the purification teachings then? Well, for most, due to the strong habitual tendencies to identify as a body-mind, the ‘I am the body-mind’ concept keeps on arising and egotism is continued. Without a spiritual practice to remove this habitual ignorance the egotism usually quickly returns and with it suffering also returns.

Insight Teachings

Examples of Insight Teachings

Insight teachings include negating teachings such as ‘You are not the body-mind’ and ‘You are not the doer’. Sometimes they take on affirming forms such as ‘You are That’ or ‘You are Brahman’ or ‘You are Pure Consciousness’, etc.

In order for insight teachings to work, usually the mind needs to be relatively calm so that there is enough mental space for the insight to arise through an in-seeing into the nature of every-day experience. Therefore it can be useful to practice calming or purification practices prior to insight.

Limitations of Insight Teachings

Insight teachings by themselves, which tend to be spoken or written teachings or ‘pointers’, can be very freeing but usually do not lead to full realisation/liberation unless the egoic vasanas/tendencies are already very much diminished. Usually, whilst insight is present all is apparently well, but then though daily life the egoic vasanas rear their head and wreak havoc. This leads to flip-flopping in which one alternately seems to ‘get it’ then ‘lose it’. For most, without purification, the insight remains fairly superficial on the level of the mind. I regularly come across many seekers in this predicament, where suffering continues and the approach is predominantly intellectual. What is required is purification, usually devotion, surrender, mantra and prayer – all the things that the stereotypical ‘western rational mind’ is often repelled by.

Purification Teachings

Examples of Purification Teachings

I have spoken and written about this more extensively elsewhere (eg. here and here) but these are essentially practices that calm the mind and reduce seeking, agitation, addiction and other egoic tendencies. From a more traditional perspective the cardinal purification teachings are devotion, prayer, gratitude, mantra recitation, meditation, hatha yoga and other things such as mindfulness practice and adopting a health diet and lifestyle. Simpler forms of purification are simply to relax, be still, accept whatever happens, surrender practices, etc, etc.

Now one could argue that these are essentially dualistic practices (which they are) and they rely on a sense of doership (which they do, at least initially). These are both worthy points and I address them here: Are spiritual teachings prescriptions or descriptions? Sudden vs. gradual teachings

Purification teachings enhance the ability of insight and also allow insight to deepen and be more stable. Therefore traditionally devotion, mantra recitation, yoga and meditation are all considered to be essential foundational practices to purify the mind and enhance the ability of Self-Realisation to occur. Similarly, purification is usually limited without insight. ie. unless the belief ‘I am the body-mind’ is removed, purification will not be as effective. This is because it is this limiting ‘I and the body-mind’ belief that gives rise to the sense of incompleteness and vulnerability that fuels these egoic tendencies.

Limitations of Purification

Like insight-only teachings, purification-only teachings, which tend to be practices, can be very freeing of themselves. Unless the sense of being a limited entity (ie. structural ignorance) is already very weak, purification alone tends not to lead to  liberation. This is because the limiting notion ‘I am the body’ goes unchecked and perpetuates itself.

Traditional Teachings

In Buddhism

I have written an article on how these teachings function in several Buddhist schools here: Buddhism: How enlightenment happens

In Hinduism (Vedanta)

In Vedanta, these two aspects of ignorance are known as the two Shaktis (energies or powers) of Maya:

1. Avarana Shakti – also known as Avriti Shakti, this is the veiling energy of Maya which prevents us from knowing ourselves as limitless Brahman. We therefore adopt a limited notion, namely ‘I am the body-mind’. Avarana Shakti keeps us from discovering our true nature and shedding this wrong knowledge or ignorance. It is related to Tamoguna. You can see that this is another way of talking about what I call Structural Ignorance above, but in a slightly different way.

2. Vikshepa Shakti – this is the projecting power of Maya. Once Avarana Shakti has veiled our true identity as Limitless Brahman and we (seemingly) take on the limited identity of the body-mind, the Vikshepa Shakti projects forth a body, mind and world in which the limited body-mind (ie. ego or jiva) can roam, seek, fear and suffer. It is related to Rajoguna. I hope you can see how this notion is related to what I call Functional Ignorance above.

In Shankara’s Vivekachudamani (see here for a summary by Ramana Maharshi), a full teaching is given that explains the above shakti’s: in the first portion of the text the knowledge teachings are explained and in the latter portion the focus is on meditation or nididhyasana. I also talk about this more here: False Enlightenment.

Is there really a double ignorance?

If you look closely, these two aspects of ignorance are deeply related and are not separate at all. Most seekers will tend towards either knowledge or purification in the first instance, and only when some headway is gained on that particular aspect of the teaching will they intuitively be drawn to the other less-explored aspect of the teaching

So, in practical terms what should I do?

Essentially, follow your heart – it will guide you. You will know, if you listen to that ‘voiceless voice’ within what teaching is right for you right now. Perhaps you need to listen to a teacher or read more. Perhaps you need to practice devotion or surrender. Perhaps both. If you remain truly open in both heart and mind and do not overly cling to fixed conceptual views, your Heart will lead you home and attract/bring into your experience exactly what you need.

That said, as a general rule, I encourage regular attendance to Satsang or a similar meeting in which these teachings are repeatedly given. The mind is resistant and egotism/ignorance is deeply ingrained in most, and so regular contact with a teacher you resonate with is usually very important. This alone can save many months or years of erroneously seeking in the wrong direction. In just a few conversations with seekers I have often been able to quickly point them in the right direction in a matter of minutes after having had a real-time interaction with them, although obviously this is not always the case. Please see my meetings page if you are interested in attended an Online Meeting or In-Person meeting with myself.

Devotional practices and mantra recitation can both be extremely powerful. I often call them spiritual bulldozers as they are able to plough their way through years and years of egoic vasanas with relative ease compared to insight style teachings in many cases. My experience is that many with a Western scientific mindset (which in many ways is my own background) do not readily resonate with these practices, especially if they have had negative experiences of organised religion. However, there are ways these practices can be explained to allow even fairly atheist seekers benefit from these teachings.

Lastly meditation and stillness are also usually essential for the teachings to penetrate the deeper layers of the body-mind and root out egotism/ignorance at a deep energetic non-verbal level.

Summary and Ego Tricks

One trick I have noticed the ego-mind does is that is tries to avoid the above by use of clever reasoning. Whilst sometimes this logic is reasonable and sound, in most cases it is the ego trying to perpetuate itself and claim knowledge and experience for itself.

Sometimes the mind will say ‘I do not need to attend Satsang as I know everything that will be said’. I met someone for a 1 to 1 just recently who had heard and read all the teachings multiple times and was growing weary of it all. They felt there was no point to asking further questions, but on some level knew that there was something missing. Through a direct interaction we were quickly able to see where the sticking points were. This was only possible as the seeker in question was open to this possibility and maintained contact and dialogue with me even though their mind was saying ‘I know all this already’. The seeker was also open to their heart which guided them, in their case, to arrange a 1 to 1 with me.

In summary, listen to your heart with an open mind. The True Guru is Within. For most, having a teacher is essential. Consider listening to knowledge teachings (eg. attending satsang), and undertaking devotional practices, mantra recitation and silence/ meditation.

Best wishes!

‘I WAS ONE WITH EVERYTHING’

consciousness brain

All these ‘spiritual’ experiences such as ‘I had a wonderful experience in which I felt one with everything’ or ‘I felt as if I was Brahman’ or ‘There was a sense of timelessness’, etc, etc, etc…

…All these experiences are more illusion.

Why? All these experiences are for the body-mind that you falsely take yourself to be…these experiences come and go, they appear then disappear, like all experiences.

Are you the body-mind? Is that your primary identity?

…You are not the body-mind!

You are That!

That thou art!

🕉 Tat Twam Asi! 🕉

❤️❤️❤️

From suffering to liberation

diamond

Here are some recent posts from my Facebook page:


Laugh and be happy!
You are the Supreme Spirit!

Just don’t take on wrong identity


Ignorance = the belief that ‘I am limited’

Removal of any and all notions that ‘I am limited’ is Self-Realisation


Intuitively we already know we are beyond all limitation, that our true nature is loving expansive Spirit. This ‘intuitive knowing’ is prior to thought and concepts


As thoughts quieten, spontaneous Joy naturally arises, and we intuitively come to ‘know’ our True Nature as Timeless Being


It is thought that says ‘I am a man/woman, I was born, I will die, etc’

In our ❤️ we already ‘know’ ourselves as Eternal Being


When you (egoically) seek fulfillment and pleasure in sense objects, when you addictively seek pleasure, you are tacitly saying ‘I am limited, I am small, I am incomplete, I need something to complete me’.

In essence you are identified with the body (ie. ignorance is in operation) and thereby you deny your Innate Divinity and suffer.


Before you were born, what were you? You were Nothing/The Formless/The Absolute.

When you die you will go back to this Nothing/The Formless/The Absolute.

Now too you are That Formless Nothing, that which cannot be known by thought/the mind, but That-Which-Is.

Only taking yourself to be the body (body-mind) do you stress, ask questions, have doubts, argue, suffer and seek.


‘I WAS ONE WITH EVERYTHING’

All these ‘spiritual’ experiences such as ‘I had a wonderful experience in which I felt one with everything’ or ‘I felt as if I was Brahman’ or ‘There was a sense of timelessness’, etc, etc, etc…

…All these experiences are more illusion.

Why? All these experiences are for the body-mind that you falsely take yourself to be…these experiences come and go, they appear then disappear, like all experiences.

Are you the body-mind? Is that your primary identity?

…You are not the body-mind!

You are That!

That thou art!

🕉 Tat Twam Asi! 🕉

❤️❤️❤️


THE PURPOSE OF TRUE SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS

The purpose of all spiritual teachings and practices is to remove ignorance and the vasanas (egoic habitual tendencies), and so end suffering.

There is nothing to gain. No special knowledge or experience. You are already That. Just lose the ignorance.

In truth spiritual practices and teachings are more illusion. There is no teacher, there is no teaching, there is no taught. Ignorance itself is more illusion. There is no real ignorance.

However as a belief that ‘I am a body mind’ has arisen, the teacher and teaching appear to also arise. This is known as ignorance.

This is because you take yourself to be limited. You take yourself to be a body mind.

Do not take yourself to be the body-mind!

You are That!
You are That Eternal Nothingness!


THE ROOT CAUSE OF SUFFERING

The search to end suffering, to gain spiritual knowledge, to attain true spiritual experience and to end confusion is all due to believing you are the body-mind.

The belief ‘I am the body-mind’ is the ignorance that causes all the trouble. This belief is also known as egotism, maya, illusion, duality, separation and samsara. It is a fiction.

In essence you are not the body-mind.

You are in essence That which is Infinite, Eternal, beyond words and speech and concepts.

This is known intuitively already. It is not more conceptual knowledge for the body-mind which is just more ignorance.The words are indicators and are not meant to be more beliefs for the body-mind.

You are That which was before the body-mind was born and will be when the body-mind has gone. You are That which is in deep dreamless sleep. Again this is already intuitively known without thought or words.

There is therefore nothing to seek, nothing to know, nothing to attain, no experience required.

🕉 You are That! 🕉

🕉 Tat Tvam Asi! 🕉

🕉 Be what you are! 🕉


The irony is that the entire spiritual teaching is literally and figuratively within us! Don’t be concerned with knowledge or experiences. They are all to do with the body. Be what you are! That which never comes and goes! That which is in deep sleep! That which was before the body was born! Tat Tvam Asi!


The conviction that your primary identity is this limited vulnerable perishable body-mind is itself intolerable suffering
🕉

Jiddu Krishnamurti: The First and Last Freedom

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I’ve put together some quotes from The First And Last Freedom written by J. Krishnamurti.  My first introduction to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti were through a book called The First Krishnamurti Reader which I read as a teenager, and the first few chapters of this book were lifted straight from The First and Last Freedom. Reading this book subsequently propelled me to zealously consume almost all the writings of ‘K’ I could find!  (Perhaps I had not read it carefully enough!)

Here I have chosen quotes that I felt summarised much of what he was trying to get across. Of course, the quotes are very concise, so take your time with them – do not speed read this if you want to ‘get’ what they are pointing at – ie. the very absence of ‘you’.

Best wishes

Tom

——

It is only if you are aware of inward insufficiency and live with it without escape, accepting it wholly, that you will discover an extraordinary tranquillity, a tranquillity which is not put together, made up, but a tranquillity which comes with understanding of what is. Only in that state of tranquillity is there creative being.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Truth is not something to be gained. Love cannot come to those who have a desire to hold on to it, or who like to become identified with it. Surely such things come when the mind does not seek, when the mind is completely quiet, no longer creating movements and beliefs upon which it can depend, or from which it derives a certain strength, which is an indication of self-deception. It is only when the mind understands this whole process of desire that it can be still. Only then is the mind not in movement to be or not to be; then only is there the possibility of a state in which there is no deception of any kind.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Thus regeneration is only possible in the present, not in the future, not tomorrow. A man who relies on time as a means through which he can gain happiness or realise truth or God is merely deceiving himself; he is living in ignorance and therefore in conflict. A man who sees that time is not the way out of our difficulty and who is therefore free from the false, such a man naturally has the intention to understand; therefore his mind is quiet spontaneously, without compulsion, without practice. When the mind is still, tranquil, not seeking any answer or any solution, neither resisting nor avoiding – it is only then that there can be a regeneration, because then the mind is capable of perceiving what is true; and it is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

A mind that would be in a state in which the new can take place – whether it be the truth, whether it be God, or what you will – must surely cease to acquire, to gather; it must put aside all knowledge. A mind burdened with knowledge cannot possibly understand, surely, that which is real, which is not measurable.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

We do not have to seek truth. Truth is not something far away. It is the truth about the mind, truth about its activities from moment to moment. If we are aware of this moment-to-moment truth, of this whole process of time, that awareness releases consciousness or the energy which is intelligence, love. So long as the mind uses consciousness as self-activity, time comes into being with all its miseries, with all its conflicts, with all its mischief, its purposive deceptions; and it is only when the mind, understanding this total process, ceases, that love can be.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Love is not of the self. Self cannot recognise love. You say ”I love; but then, in the very saying of it, in the very experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When there is love, self is not.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

——

Truth, God or what you will, is not something to be experienced, for the experiencer is the result of time, the result of memory, of the past, and so long as there is the experiencer there cannot be reality. There is reality only when the mind is completely free from the analyser, from the experiencer and the experienced. Then you will find the answer, then you will see that the change comes without your asking, that the state of creative emptiness is not a thing to be cultivated – it is there, it comes darkly, without any invitation; only in that state is there a possibility of renewal, newness, revolution.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom

Does time exist? Is the world real? Are spiritual practices useful?

hummingbird
Does time exist? Or is time an illusion?
Is the world real? Or is this all an empty projection?
Does the world disappear upon liberation, or does it persist?
Is a spiritual practice needed? Or do all practices simply reinforce the egoic-me?
 
…these are all questions for the egoic-mind, the false-I.
 
…Liberation is simply freedom from this egoic-mind.
 
Liberation already IS, fully and totally,
And Liberation is all that IS, always and already.
 
❤️

I am That

Vishnu.jpg

I am That,
That Awareness,
That unchanging eternal Consciousness,
That which is intrinsically different to and untouched by the myriad phenomena of body-mind-and-world,
That which does nothing, but in whose presence all is done,
That which is beyond the grasp of the fickle mind,
That which is beyond all experiences of bliss and suffering,
That which can never be known,
But always IS.

Yet all this is Me,
The all-pervading Vishnu,
Benevolently smiling,
Radiant with Blissful Love,
Protecting all,
Loving all and everything,
Encompassing all,
One with all phenomena,
Clear,
Pure,
The nature of Love,
Beauty itself,
Worthy of Ceaseless Devotion and Gratitude,
Self-shining,
Bright and ever-whole,
Ever-pristine and peaceful,
Always intuitively known by simply BEING,
Effortlessly present and ever-free.

Om Tat Sat

🕉🙏❤

You are innate divine power

You are innate divine power. You are naturally free. You are self-fulfilled: You need nothing to complete You.

Nothing can harm You. You, the essence, ever remain the same, unacting, unmoving, whole, unscathed and untouched.

You, pure consciousness, are one with everything and all-pervading, yet no individual object is You, the divine essence.

Discerning self from non-self, knowing this, realised your true nature as you. Then rest here, as the unacting, all-pervading, untouchable, self-fulfilled Self.

When this knowledge is firm, letting go of all thoughts, even thoughts of ‘I am That’, etc, simply be still and abide as the Self (ie. that which is denoted by ‘You’ above).


In the above lines, the first 3 paragraphs are when the teaching is verbally explained and listened to by the seeker (Sravana, which means listening in Sanskrit). This is the first step of the teachings in which the concepts of the teachings are delivered and explained by a teacher and thereafter retained by the seeker.

In the 4th paragraph the verbal teachings are contemplated (Manana in Sanskrit) by the seeker. This is the second step of the teaching and this eventually culminates in an experiential realisation or understanding of what the teachings are pointing towards. The conceptual understanding that occurs through Sravana has now been transformed into a direct experiential understanding through examining ones direct experience in light of the conceptual teachings.

In the last paragraph the verbal teachings themselves are transcended once the ‘I am the body-mind’ concept is no longer present, and the instruction is simply to remain as That (Nididhyasana or meditation in Sanskrit).

It is this last stage that leads to lasting fulfilment and the end of suffering through (1) destruction of the habitual tendency (Vasana in Sanskrit) to identify as a limited entity (ie. ignorance or avidya in Sanskrit) ie.the body-mind) and (2) destruction of the egoic tendencies to seek pleasure and fulfilment through objects (Vishaya Vasanas in Sanskrit), including subtle objects such as experiences and knowledge /understanding /insights /intuitions, all of which are transient and so never lead to lasting satisfaction or lasting peace.

When suffering is no more, this is also known as ‘understanding’ or ‘knowledge’ or wisdom (Jnana), and it is also the culmination of devotional love (Bhakti) and the culmination of the path of meditation or yoga. It is also known as Self-realisation or liberation (Moksha).

Q. This understanding stays for a while and then gets muddled…how to get back to the clear state?

Questioner: Usually this understanding stays for a while and then again gets muddled or covered by personality and it’s needs. How do we keep going back to the clear state…Although there is nothing called going back.

Tom:  This is not a trick question: what covers up the ‘clear state’?

Q. The personality and it’s story.

Tom: Does it really get in the way? If so, how? If not, how?

Q. It’s like a forgetting of the clear state and thinking of ourself as a personality and the story it carries. This is taken as real and suddenly we are captured by it’s momentum unless some teaching or saying re-points to the clear state again. There is forgetting of the clear state.

Tom: Exactly. There is your answer. The force of habitually taking yourself to be a ‘me’ or a body-mind is ignorance. Letting that subside or seeing through that is enough. Eventually the habit will reverse and ignorance won’t reappear. It never really appears anyway. Namaste.

Bhagavad Gita – how to advance in Yoga

Gita the path is stillness.png

In the original Sanskrit, the word translated here as ‘work’ is ‘karma’. In the the preceding chapters Krishna has taught Arjuna about spiritual practice during activities, ie. karma yoga, in which the mind is made calm during activities by various means.

Now, in Chapter 6, Krishna teaches Arjuna that eventually the path of work leads to the path of stillness, and it is through stillness of mind that one advances in yoga. The rest of Chapter 6 explains in more details how this is to be done.

Be still and abide as the Self

Gita step by step he should become still.png

Whilst everything is nothing but the Self and nothing is ever apart from the Self, the Vedanta texts often speak of abiding as the Self.

This means to still the mind so that it is undisturbed and lose any notion of being a separate ‘I’ or ‘me’. Here we just abide as pure consciousness or pure knowingness, devoid of thoughts and phenomena, devoid of egotism.

This is pure ‘knowledge’ beyond knowledge, direct ‘experience’ beyond experiences, the ‘peace’ that passeth all understanding, Silence, beyond words and chatter.

❤️🙏