Confusion and the Self-Realization Traditions
There is much confusion in the discourse around self-realization.
Teachings often appear as if contradictory. Some teachers and particularly organised religions seem to emphasise practice. Other teachers emphasise self-inquiry. Still other teachers emphasise healing work.
Behind the teachings, however, there is a common thread of truth. The differences are merely superficial. Each teaching is suited to, or will resonate with, a certain amorphous group of seekers.
In essence, all teachings emerge so as to bring the seeker back to centre – to enable the seeker to subside back into the real Self from which it appears. They act as a mirror for unexamined assumptions and beliefs.
Most confusion can be avoided, if only the seeker follows any given path as far as it will go. Preferably then, in some sense, a path that does not entail many lifetimes!
Despite the common origin of self-realization teachings, there are differences.
Advaitic (Nonduality) teachings tend to be considered ‘direct-path’ teachings – they tend not to expend much effort on preparations and practices. Although, certain practices can be useful for particular students, just as clearing the floor of furniture may be more conducive to dancing without injury or obstruction.
Thus far, ‘secular’ psychology or research-based approaches to self-realization seem to be entirely absent. I suspect this will remain so, indefinately: Psychology is about making functional persons. Self-realization has no use for functional persons – although ironically people may in many cases be more functional ‘post-realization’ than prior (though not always). The truth of self-realization is utterly catastrophic from the perspective of the personal ego. Secular Mindfulness and such, are always oriented toward personal development, not self-realization. Thus, I suspect, it is a bridge too far – too ‘radical’. Not that it matters!
There is no market for self-realization; neither financial nor social. You cannot really sell genuine self-realization, though many will try. There is literally nothing to sell!
Other traditional and institutional religious teachings tend to be laden with distraction. Examples that fit this category include Christianity and Buddhism. It is indubitable that these traditions have a profound relative cultural value, within the realm of human affairs. Nevertheless, the essential message has been distorted across time – usually beyond recognition – leaving only the vague but nonetheless, unmistakable impression of what once was. People subsist, often superficially happily, upon the rotted narrative of the long-dead incarnate recognition of Self – tales of prophets, martyrs, sages and messiahs.
Again, none of this has any relevance to the real.
Find the Real. Nothing else matters.