Glimpses vs. Stabilization on the Way of Jnana Yoga

By Adam J. Pearson

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Questioner: “One instant of boundlessness resolves the entire equation,” is this true?

Adam: “Yes and no. In an instant, there can be a perfect glimpse of boundlessness. But that is very different from being stabilized in and as it. The selfing mental process is very quick to claim anything it comes into contact with, including this boundlessness, as the basis for a mental, conceptual identity. It can claim very easily even what is beyond all concepts and unbounded to make a conceptual, bounded identity: “I am boundlessness.” And soon as this idea is believed, we settle for a conceptual image of the glimpse and forget the living reality of our true nature, which is beyond all concepts. A glimpse is like a free sample. Stabilization is the fruit of hard work, continuous practice. We must train the mind to abide constantly in beingness beyond being ‘this’ or ‘that.’

This beingness, as Nisargadatta Maharaj often reminds us, is the doorway to the absolute beyond it, beyond consciousness itself. To have a glimpse is easy, but a glimpse is not the same as stabilized, complete, and total liberation. Awakening only takes a glimpse and is effortless; liberation is the fruit of hard work, a ripening of hard practice. In the Neo-Advaita community, there is an emphasis on rest and effortlessness and hard work and effort are marginalized. The truth is that both are relatively necessary to move from a glimpse to stabilized abidance and without this stabilized abidance, the work is not yet done.

Here in the West, we have set the bar of enlightenment very low, settling for mediocrity; many attain glimpses–most stop short of liberation, prematurely declaring the work over. Glimpses are confused with stabilized absolute freedom, awakening with liberation.

To make any real progress, not as a human being, but as the consciousness taking itself to be a human being, we first have to be honest about our total lack of understanding. We have to face our total ignorance, our profound confusion, fear, and doubt, and start from the beginning, the doorway to the eternal itself, the sense I Am. If we are not stabilized in this beingness through resting attention in the sense “I Am,” refusing to harbour all other thoughts that aren’t needed to complete a present task, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, our sadhana (practice) is not yet over.

Throughout this process of stabilization, we may have glimpses of the solution to the equation, but it is not yet resolved once and for all. The equation, the solution, and all the variables are in consciousness, in the beingness; resolution and non-resolution are states within this play. Only when we are so perfectly grounded in the Source of all the states and conditions beyond all is the work done. Then we cannot even speak of a need to balance an equation or of a solution.

Until then, if we are really serious and not settling for mediocrity, however, the work goes on. Day by day, moment by moment. Here in the West, we do not want to hear this. We want a quick fix, “nothing to do, no one to do it.” But a quick fix is but a band-aid to a vast wound; band-aids fall off and the root wound remains unhealed. Healing the root wound, the “I Am’s” primal error, takes hard practice. Yes, it is rest, but remembering to rest 24/7 or forgetting not to rest 24/7 is hard work.

Meditation must not only happen on the cushion and for a set-time, but as constantly as possible, from waking until sleeping. We must resolutely and tenaciously stick with the sense of presence, of beingness, “I Am” with each incoming and outgoing breath even while our body-minds are active in working, eating, talking, or just sitting. Life itself must become meditation, driven by a burning determination to realize the absolute above and beyond all else. As Nisargadatta often repeated, earnestness is the decisive factor; if we are truly earnest, we will be willing to pay any price, invest as much effort as it takes, and fight on in this practice every moment of every day. The work and effort needed are intense, but when they are earnest, they are labours of love.


Part of a series on Nonduality and Jnana Yoga:

Throw Out Your Spiritual Answers

Great Doubt Expresses Great Faith

Beyond Experiencing

Movements of the Immovable

One Step is One Too Many: Waking Up as Stripping Away

Beauty, Wonder, and the Invitation Home

The Heart of the Way: Not One, Nor Two

Everything You Experience “Now” is Remembered: Neuroscience and Nonduality

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