Let us suppose there were a very quick easy simple method to end the ego-illusion.
That is to actually end the ego-illusion, gone – dead forever, and not to think, believe or imagine one has ended the ego.
Just for the sake of illustration, here is a hypothetical example:
Lets say that someone found a method that required that one just snap the fingers three times and the ego would be dead and gone forever, the thinker, the body, the world, all universes, all planes, all dimensions, all time and all space would disappear and what would remain would be Infinite-Eternal-Being-Awareness-Bliss-Love-Peace.
Let us suppose that the snap the fingers three times method were 100% sure to work for everyone who tried it.
Just snapping the fingers three times, so easy and so quick. In a second or two the ego illusion, etc., would be gone.
How many people would snap their fingers three times given the above scenario?
Almost no one. That includes almost everyone who studies, thinks about or talks about spiritual teachings, almost none of those people would snap their fingers three times.
The reason they would not snap their fingers three times is in almost every human being the desire to preserve the ego is trillions of times greater than the desire to end the ego illusion.
#1. Some people would be honest and admit that the reason they do not snap their fingers three times is because they do not want the ego illusion to end, or that the desire to preserve the ego-illusion is greater than the desire to end it, or because they fear ending the human known.
#2. Others would not be so honest, and claim that they would indeed like the ego-illusion to end, or that their desire to end the ego-illusion is greater than their desire to preserve the ego-illusion, or that they are not afraid of ending the human known.
Those in category #2 would then proceed to think of some other reason why they do not snap their finger three times. Some imaginary, false reason, to hide the real reason.
Since thoughts can combine in millions or trillions of combinations, the number of false reasons that the ego can create for not snapping the fingers three times, are almost endless.
Whatever reason the people in category #2 gave for not snapping their fingers three times, would not be the real reason. It would always be a lie created by the ego-illusion, to hide the fact that they do not want the ego illusion to end, or the fact that their desire to preserve the ego-illusion is greater than their desire to end the ego-illusion or the fact that they are afraid of ending the human known.
Because the ego can create an almost unlimited number of imaginary reasons, they cannot all be listed. Different people would find different reasons not to snap their fingers three times.
In some circles they would say:
"Snapping the fingers requires effort, effort is not the way," or
"Snapping the fingers is a practice, practice is not the way," or
"Snapping the fingers requires a doer, therefore it cannot be the way."
Now all they would have had to do was snap their fingers three times and the ego would have been gone in the above described scenario.
Instead of engaging in all those thoughts that are created by the ego as a preservation strategy, they could have just snapped their fingers three times.
But they would not have done it.
Instead of simple sentences like saying snapping the fingers requires effort, etc. and therefore it cannot be the way, they might go on to explain why it will not work.
They might create a whole page of sentences explaining why it will not work or create hundreds of pages, of sentences, thoughts, concepts about why it will not work.
And yet in the above described scenario, all they would have to have done is to snap the fingers three times and the ego-illusion would have been finished.
They might have said:
"If it were really that easy, many people would be snapping their fingers three times and thus awakening, therefore it cannot be that easy."
Their thinking it cannot be that easy, otherwise many people would have snapped their fingers and awakened is not correct, because there are almost no humans who wish to end the ego-illusion, and therefore the reason why there would be almost no one awakening using such a simple quick method is because almost no human wishes to be liberated from the ego illusion and therefore almost no one would actually try the simple quick method by actually snapping their fingers three times.
They would not be interested in ending the ego illusion; however, they might be interested in thinking about and discussing spiritual concepts and pretending thinking about and discussing spiritual concepts had something to do with ending the ego illusion, or pretending that thinking about such concepts was actually making progress towards ending the ego illusion.
An endless stream of thoughts, some confused and some clever, would masquerade as spiritual progress.
Snapping the fingers three times will not end the ego-illusion, that was just a hypothetical example.
However, there is an extremely quick rapid method to end the ego-illusion, and the examples given above about almost no one using the direct means, because almost no one truly wishes to end the ego-illusion, and the way the ego directs thought as a preservation strategy are actual examples of what people do when confronted with the possibility of being liberated now in this lifetime.
One cannot list all of the millions of possible combinations of thoughts and concepts, however, the ego will find something that convinces one, and leads one away from being liberated now, in this lifetime, by leading one away from the most direct, quickest means to do so.
An endless maze of thought: In some people that maze is extremely confused, and in some people that maze is very subtle, very clever, very intricate. Most peoples thinking falls somewhere in between these two.
An endless maze of thought leading to ego-preservation, although usually masquerading as something else.
Some people think their own thoughts are better than the instructions of a liberated sage.
That is only one of so many thousands of ego-preservation strategies.
When the extremely intense desire for liberation arises, one selects those quotes that describe the direct practice, and then actually practices the described practice.
Before the extremely intense desire for liberation arises, people either ignore the quotes by Direct Path sages, or they select quotes that help to preserve the ego-illusion instead of ending it, or they make the quotes into an intellectual affair, agreeing and disagreeing, thinking about the quotes, discussing them etc.
"What does Self-Awareness mean?" is a great question. I wished I had paid more attention to that question when I first began studying Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings 30 years ago, and I also wished I had paid more attention to that question when studying Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om, Sri Annamalai Swami and Sri Nisargadatta's teachings.
Before the extremely intense desire for freedom arises, the ego studies the teachings for the purpose of preserving the ego illusion, and it focuses on those quotes that will help to preserve the ego-illusion. That is how almost everyone, lets say 99.88% of those who study the teachings, study them. For around 25 years, that was how I also studied the teachings.
Then some doubt arose, and that was like punching a small hole in a dam, which allowed some water to flow through.
More and more holes were punched in the dam, until one day the dam disappeared and all of the water in the lake came rushing forth as a mighty river.
That river is called the extremely intense desire for freedom. It allows one to see all the ego's deception and one wonders, how could I have not seen all this before?
It brings perfect clarity, insight, honesty and intensity with it and it demands that one focus only on that which is essential and it brings the awareness needed to see that which is essential.
Previous to the awakening of the extremely intense desire for freedom, the ego pretends to know what is essential in the Teachings, and it calls the inessential the essential, as a preservation strategy.
After the extremely intense desire for liberation is awakened, what one sees in those same teachings is completely different. Then one looks for the instructions for the most direct practice and one practices it.
The answer to the question "What is Self-awareness?" is revealed in practice. However, a careful study of the teachings of the 5 sages referenced below will reveal the practice instructions, so that one does not fumble around for 999,000,000,000 imaginary lifetimes trying to figure them out by thinking.
Turning one's attention away from thought, the body, the world, etc. and towards awareness watching awareness is the most direct means of ending the ego illusion.
Prior to the awakening of the extremely intense desire for liberation the ego can create an almost unlimited number of arguments against that fact.
Scholars may be able to find quotes, even quotes from the five direct path sages that would refute the fact that turning the attention away from the body, thought, world, etc. and towards awareness watching awareness is the most direct means to end the ego illusion.
I have placed hundreds of quotes on The Five Sages Page that support the awareness watching awareness practice.
What is important is not the quotes which support it and which do not support it. What is important is the practice and the results.
If a thousand scholars created one million pages of argument that beautifully, logically, completely refuted the fact that the awareness watching awareness approach was the most direct means to end the ego illusion, the awareness watching awareness approach would still be the most direct means to end the ego illusion.
The practice is unrelated to the concepts that people imagine about it.
What is important is the awakening of the extremely intense desire for liberation, because prior to that, the ego will not allow one to see.
Human beings have made almost no inward progress in the last many thousands of years, with the exception of a very few who have ended the ego-illusion. Death, disease, thousands of forms of suffering and sorrow, violence, fear, war, cruelty (verbal and physical), lying, conning, cheating, appear now just as they did thousands of years ago.
As an example, pretending to care when the behavior does not match it, someone spends $7.00 to go see a movie when there are starving people in the world; yet they consider themselves to be caring.
For the change to occur from the above to Infinite-Eternal-Being-Awareness-Bliss-Love-Peace, the ego-illusion, which is the source of the above described human condition, must end.
Why does it end in so few humans?
Because the extremely intense desire for liberation has not yet been awakened.
Prior to its awakening, the fear of ending the ego, prevents people from turning inward and removing the ego-illusion.
Comparing the human condition with Infinite-Eternal-Being-Awareness-Bliss-Love-Peace can awaken the intense desire for freedom if one does a good job of looking at the human condition and the comparison.
Without the awakening of the extremely intense desire for liberation, humans stay as they are, and all the supposed inward changes are only superficial.
Thus there is a step-by-step order necessary to end the ego-illusion and to remain in freedom.
I will use a few quotes by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and insert step numbers. (I happen to be compiling some of Sri Nisargadatta's quotes now, and that is why I'm using them, not because there is some sort of preference to Sri Nisagardatta's quotes.)
Read the quotes very slowly, treating them as practice instructions and not topics for thinking, discussion, etc.
For example in the first quote, the words "unable to see its enormity" are important keys, but people tend to read so quickly they miss some of the details of the practice instructions. Thus facing the enormity of human suffering, instead of blocking out 99.88% of human suffering as people usually do is the first step.
- STEP #1:
Questioner: "Have I not suffered enough?"
Nisargadatta: "Suffering has made you dull, unable to see its enormity. Your first task is to see the sorrow in you and around you ... "
- STEP #2:
" ... your next is to long intensely for liberation. The very intensity of longing will guide you; you need no other guide."
- STEP #3:
Questioner: "Surely there is something valid and valuable in every approach."
Nisargadatta: "In each case the value lies in bringing you to the need of seeking within. Playing with various approaches may be due to resistance to going within, to the fear of having to abandon the illusion of being something or somebody in particular. To find water you do not dig small pits all over the place, but drill in one place only. Similarly, to find your self you have to explore yourself."
Questioner: "In the beginning we may have to pray and meditate for some time before we are ready for self-inquiry."
Nisargadatta: "If you believe so, go on. To me, all delay is a waste of time. You can skip all the preparation and go directly for the ultimate search within. Of all the Yogas it is the simplest and the shortest."
Questioner: "You mean to say that all these glories will come with the mere dwelling on the feeling "I am"?
Nisargadatta: "It is the simple that is certain, not the complicated. Somehow, people do not trust the simple, the easy, the always available. Why not give an honest try to what I say? It may look very small and insignificant, but it is like a seed that grows into a mighty tree. Give yourself a chance!"
"I simply followed my Guru's instruction which was to focus the mind on pure being 'I am', and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the 'I am' in my mind and soon peace and joy and a deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared – myself, my Guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained and unfathomable silence."
"Whatever happened, I would turn my attention away from it and remain with the sense 'I am', it may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears. Just turn away from all that occupies the mind; do whatever work you have to complete, but avoid new obligations; keep empty, keep available, resist not what comes uninvited. In the end you will reach a state of non-grasping, of joyful non-attachment, of inner ease and freedom indescribable, yet wonderfully real."
"Nothing stops you but preoccupation with the outer which prevents you from focusing on the inner. It cannot be helped, you cannot skip your spiritual practice. You have to turn away from the world and go within."
"As long as you are engrossed in the world, you are unable to know yourself: to know yourself, turn your attention away from the world and turn it within."
Questioner: "What is the course of training in self-awareness?"
Nisargadatta: "There is no need of training. Awareness is always with you. The same attention that you give to the outer, you turn to the inner. No new, or special kind of awareness is needed."
"What you need is to be aware of being aware."
"Don't be misled by the simplicity of the advice. Very few are those who have the courage to trust the innocent and the simple."
"The all important word is 'try'. Allot enough time daily for sitting quietly and trying, just trying, to go beyond the personality, with its addictions and obsessions."
"You just keep on trying until you succeed. If you persevere, there can be no failure."
"It is not a matter of easy, or difficult. Either you try or you don't. It is up to you."
The Five Sages Page is linked at the AWA index page:
Specific step-by-step instructions in the quickest most direct means to liberation can be found in the book "THE MOST RAPID AND DIRECT MEANS TO ETERNAL BLISS".
Every chapter in the book is a step towards liberation.
The book can be read here: most_rapid/contents.htm
or a paper copy can be obtained at thefreedomreligionpress
Contact form: thefreedomreligionpress
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