Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Stages of Enlightenment
by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 

Following is one way of describing the stages of enlightenment. The original source of this explanation is unknown to me. Within the parenthesis is also a note about how a person at each stage might view those at the other stages.

There is nothing higher: At first one is completely atheistic, whether due to being so engaged in external activities as to not notice anything higher, or due to abject rejection of anything beyond the world of appearances. (The one who says there is nothing else beyond the apparent world rejects everything except the day-to-day, and often rejects all of the other people who see differently.)

God is up there: Then one discovers there is something else, a higher reality, and as the eyes look upwards through the sky, with folded hands, proclaims that there is God, and He or She is there, above. (The one who sees God as being up there, or out there, cannot grasp the more intimate, inner relationship or being, but can see the atheists, possibly considering them to be misguided, and trying to convert them to their own views.)

God is beside me: In time, one comes to feel a closeness, and finds that the God, which has been seen in that far distant sky is standing beside me as a constant companion, ever guiding on the journey. (The one who walks with God can have understanding of the atheist and the proclaimer of God, but does not yet find that Lord within.)

The Lord is within: As the relationship and the guidance grows, the feeling becomes deeper and more intimate, when one then declares that God is within me, in the inner chamber of my heart. (The one who finds God, Lord, Truth, Reality within may understand the others, yet not know of, or be reluctant to surrender into the higher Oneness.)

All is One - I am That: At some point, one comes to feel such closeness that there seems to be a merging, wherein he or she cries out, "All is One," "I am That," or "The Father/Mother and I are one," like the wave awakening to the reality of being one with the ocean. (The one who discovers the truth of Oneness with the divine may well understand the stance of people on the other stages of the journey, and find himself or herself rejected by those others, though remaining in love with all, and excluding none.)

Like floors of a building: When you are on the first floor of a building, you may only be familiar with what is on that first floor. When you have gone to the third floor, you may now be familiar with the first three floors, but don't know anything about the higher floors. So it is with these stages of enlightenment, and this is the source of much confusion and conflict. If one does not know about the higher stages or floors, they are simply not seen, or are quite misunderstood. Only the current floor and the lower floors are known. In this way, the Mystics and Yogis, who are interested in the higher floors, are often rejected or condemned by the religionists who have not yet seen or experienced the higher floors, which may not only relate to the traditions and practices they are criticizing, but also even be part of their own religions.

Stages are like a road map: Being aware of these stages, of this process of emerging enlightenment, can be very comforting on the journey, and can serve as a road map for seeing ourselves and others in a spirit of acceptance and love.

Progressive process of unification: The progressive process of moving ever closer to the higher realizations is a process of unification of that, which was never divided in the first place. One of the names for this process of unification is Yoga, which literally translates as union or to join.

See also these articles: 
Mysticism, Yoga, and Religion
Five Universal Stages of Meditation 
Shortcut to Self-Realization 



This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.