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Basics of Right Effort Leading to Self-realization

21. 10. 2007

Jiri Vacek

Effective effort leading to Self-realization originates from the right understanding of what we have to achieve, of course without mistaking this understanding for the realization itself: we simply try to realize what we already are.

This effort has two stages:

  1. realizing what we are not
  2. realizing what we really are


Realizing what we are not

Our nescience or ignorance of our true Self has two constituents:

  1. identification with what we are not
  2. not realizing what we are

Because the core of our nescience, i.e. the ignorance of ourselves, is the identification of our Self, us, with the objects we are not, the first step is to realize clearly what we are not. Let’s repeat once again that our goal we are searching and striving for is not just an opinion (it does not matter how right and rooted) but direct experience in the consciousness without help of anything else (mind etc...).

For this we can use an exercise or drill where we try to be aware of ourselves as the consciousness that is aware of everything else as an "observer" and at the same time we realize that we are nothing we can observe but the observing consciousness itself - the "observer" or seer. During this we consciously realize as direct experience: here I am, the observing consciousness, and over there there are perceived objects. This is true for the world, body and mind and all thoughts, ideas and mental images. Here it is crucial to experience the truth that I am not the world, body and mind but the consciousness that is different from everything observable and is just temporarily aware of the observable objects. When attention of consciousness and thus also the consciousness itself is absorbed in anything observable unconsciously "It" cannot realize itself as the consciousness in consciousness.

A habit of letting our consciousness to be ignorantly absorbed by the world, body and mind is very strong and deeply rooted. Therefore it has a real strength, a powerful creative strength and with this it constantly grips us into the full absorption in any of observable objects. This strength cannot be undone neither by just the right opinion of the mind nor at once. It will not loose even after the temporary experience in consciousness of "I am not the body or the mind but the consciousness". The false identification is dissolved permanently only with repeated and persistent achieving a direct experience of the consciousness where we experience ourselves as the consciousness that is different from the body and mind. This gradual deepening of direct experience of the consciousness different from the body and mind must be accompanied by corresponding state of our mind, thinking and feeling, if not then it loses its effectiveness. Simply said we cannot pursue creative mental tendencies rising from the opinion that we are identical with our body and mind and at the same time experience that we are pure consciousness and not the body and mind.

Constant dwelling in the consciousness of the "observer" that realizes he is not a body nor mind accompanied by dissolving tendencies that support our identification with the body and mind is the essential condition for the self-realization. Practicing the position of the self-aware consciousness being different from everything observable is necessary for canceling our identification with the body and mind.


Realizing what we really are

Realization of what we really are can be attained at the easiest by means of position of consciousness that observes everything but is not anything observable. When having attained and deepened this direct experience of the "observer" we stop perceiving/observing everything observable and fully concentrate on the "I" consciousness, on the consciousness of our "Self". It is common experience of every being: "I am and I know that I am and it is me, ‘I’ who I am and none else." This is primary experience and reality of our being. In the basis of it there lies our true divine nature, the consciousness "I am". In the state of ignorance we identify that divine nature of ours with mind and body but "It" alone truly still exists in its original purity. All what is needed is to free it from that ignorant absorbance/identification in mind and body and through concentration in consciousness we strengthen it.

The former, differing from body and mind, is achieved by dwelling in the self-aware observing/witnessing consciousness that is different from everything observable. The latter is achieved by persistent and conscious experiencing of our "Self" that is aware of our self-conscious existence of the "observer" which is genuine consciousness "I am". Stabilization and deepening of this state of the "Self" in consciousness again needs long and tireless practice. To support this effort with the right controlling of our mind is necessary too. Just to dwell in "I" consciousness without controlling our mind obstructs to the permanent state of realization. Uncontrolled mind is always bringing a danger that some of the undissolved vasanas will get us under control and mar effects of our effort. Unfortunately, such cases are not rare but they happen only because of the underestimating power of vasanas and our infelicitous benevolence to them.


Attaining self-realization

The effort leading to attainment of self-realization can be divided into two categories:

  1. Right understanding
  2. Right effort


Right understanding

Right understanding is not the same as the realization of "I". Understanding is just a matter of mind but the realization is a state of consciousness that is above mind and thus cannot be reached by the mind. It can be attained by correctly led attention of consciousness only.

It is true that we are divine in our nature and that this nature is the pure consciousness "I am". However, presently we are not aware of that nature of ours but we are identified with the objects we are not truly, that is namely with the mind and body. We cannot realize our true identity although we listen to the correct instructions but we are fully driven by our ignorance that lies in the identification of our consciousness with the mind and body.

Identification with the body and mind is not just a thought and does not arise from the mind but from the state of our consciousness. That’s why this false identification cannot be removed by any thought but only by the change of the state of our consciousness. That means we have to differ "us", our consciousness, from the body and mind and this cannot be done through thinking but only by the right leading of the attention of consciousness. Realization is not a state of mind or its idea, but the consciousness alone that realizes itself in its true nature. It is self-aware in its consciousness or better it is the consciousness self-realizing itself in itself.

The exact understanding of what we really look for and where and how should we lead our enquiry to ensure we practice correctly is necessary and very useful but it alone is not enough really. He who mistakes an understanding for the enlightenment mistakes a word, a term for the reality alone.

If we really want to attain realization it is absolutely necessary to understand that the realization is not a state of mind or in the mind but much more. We, our "I", are not/is not the ego, the mind but the consciousness. It is this clear differentiation of our consciousness aware of thoughts from those thoughts themselves, including the thought/idea of realization that is completely essential for the true realization. He, who cannot do that, cannot attain the realization and is in mortal danger that he will confuse the "Self", his true "I" for the ego and the self-realization for an idea, a creation of his mind, i.e. he mistakes an opinion for the true realization.

Neither ignorance about our true nature nor self-realization arises from the mind but from the consciousness itself that is behind the mind. So if we want to get rid of that ignorance and attain the state of realization it is necessary for us to strive with our consciousness and control its attention which in other words is the atmavichara.

It is true that we do not reach, achieve or create our true "I" because we already are "I". We just remove the obstacles that prevent us from realizing and experiencing "It". This effort grounds in dissolving our identification with what we are not and realizing of what we truly are. The enlightenment is self-realizing of and by the self-conscious consciousness and that cannot be done without hard practice as everyone who really tries it will find out.

Work with the consciousness and its attention is work with the highest and the most powerful force existing and has its exact rules. We have to know and follow those rules if we want to succeed. An opinion that consciousness itself is nothing but just static and passive element without strength and power is a sign of total ignorance. It is just the contrary: the consciousness is the source of great creative power that is led by its attention. Before any creation, including the mental one, can appear there must be an essential condition fulfilled and that is corresponding turning of the attention of consciousness. It holds literally: nothing exists and cannot exist without consciousness.

Although the mere opinion that we are not the body and mind is very good it will not cancel our identification with the body and mind because ego is created by the power of consciousness which is in the state of ignorance. This ignorance lasts until we live this truth directly in the consciousness: here I am, the self-conscious consciousness, and over there there are mind and body. I am the consciousness and the body and mind are just perceived objects.

The truth about the self-realization is: it is direct experience of the consciousness that realizes itself in its self-conscious existence but it is not an idea or thought of mind.

Realization is recognizing what I am not but mainly what I really am. So it is not an idea or opinion and can only be attained by withdrawal of our attention from the things we ignorantly identify with and realizing myself in what I am. These all are realizing processes of consciousness but not mind.

Who is not able to differ the activity and influence of the mind from the activity and influence of the consciousness cannot strive correctly. Realization is the awareness: I am the pure consciousness "I am" and it is a result of inverting our attention of consciousness to our "Self". It is experiencing the "Self" in the consciousness, direct experience completely independent of the activity or peace of mind. I, consciousness, exist/s both when I think and when I don´t think and thus it is beyond the reach of the mind.

The basic but not self-sufficient condition for realization of our "Self" is to understand the nature of consciousness and its primality. To take the consciousness as a consciousness of something only, i.e. as a consciousness of objects, is a sign of a great ignorance that prevents us from the realization. Consciousness is the absolute, self-sustainable Reality, absolute being, noumenon, self-conscious absolute subject, existing for its own sake, unconditioned and absolutely independent existence. We don’t have consciousness but we are consciousness that is aware of itself and also of perceived objects such as body, world, mind and their absence too. Consciousness is an ability to be conscious, it is a conscious principle that is working spontaneously and constantly. We are still aware of something whether in the state of realization or ignorance, sleeping or awake. Even awareness of nothing, the emptiness is the result of this realizing activity of consciousness and without it such experience is impossible. We are that consciousness and that’s why we can recognize ourselves as "It" only by/through consciousness only, by correctly led attention of consciousness on our nature which results in self-realization. Therefore as we have already stated we can’t achieve the realization just with the mere opinion or the position of mind without inverting attention of consciousness to our "Self".

The instruction that we already are "It" which we are looking for and so there is nothing to be attained is right and useful only because it removes our false belief and tendency to look for something out of us or even strive to create something we are not. On the other hand the above cited instruction: "You are It" definitely isn’t true for ego. It is just the contrary, the ego, identity of consciousness with ego must be dissolved at first before we can realize ourselves as "It". Dissolving ego isn’t done by a mere thought "I am not the body and mind" but by the real differing of the consciousness from the body and mind through the true experience of ourselves in the consciousness that is directly aware of this reality: "I am the self-conscious consciousness but nothing I can observe."

The correct opinion protects us from searching something out of us, something that is not right here right now and that we are not. It protects us from making a mistake of trying to create something new that we are not or become or identify with anything else. We are still the only "I". However this opinion alone although right doesn’t have any power or strength. Whether I understand what I am or not, I am still in the state of ego if my consciousness is identified with the body and mind and I don’t have direct experience of the consciousness. This experience is above the mind and out of its reach. It is just during the process of correct leading of the attention of consciousness when we start realizing that we are neither body nor mind but the consciousness itself. It is only by this leading of our attention how we achieve the change of state of consciousness but definitely not by mere change of opinion of mind. The last mentioned simply isn’t self-sufficient. Whether I think I am the body or mind or not, if my consciousness is ignorantly identified with them, then I am ego, body and mind. Then I don’t experience anything else except for the life of consciousness being imprisoned in the body and mind. This state of bondage and suffering will not be changed by thinking but only by realization of our true, divine nature of consciousness. The principle that effectively works here is not the mind but correctly led consciousness and its attention.

The statement that we can’t realize through effort is true for indirect means only, i.e. the means which purpose is to make the self-realization easier by calming down and controlling our mind and its purification. These include namely studying the teachings, controlling mind, pranayama, concentration on chakras and others. They are useful but don’t lead to realization directly because they don’t turn the attention of consciousness straight on it. It holds totally: I am not aware of anything I don’t turn my attention to.

However, aiming attention at consciousness itself, which is the only thing that can bring us to realization, is also an effort but it greatly differs from all the ways of practice we mentioned previously. The essence of the latter is the conscious leading of the attention of consciousness in the correct direction, i.e. to the consciousness itself either in its activity of the "observer" or in its nature which is the consciousness of the "Self", own existence/being.

Let’s try to get the right understanding of the practice that leads to self-realization and let’s practice with all the strength we have. The endeavor to understand "It" or even to realize through our reason and thinking is hopeless and misguiding. The solution of self-realization is not in the mind but in the consciousness above it. To understand the Reality is impossible without its realization. Convictions of the mind about the Reality without its direct experience is always lesser or greater misunderstanding of "It" because of that missing experience. Therefore we should strive for direct experience at the first place because it is the only correct basis for understanding. Realization is beyond powers and abilities of mind but can be reached by self-realizing in consciousness only. We realize through correctly aimed attention of the consciousness at the consciousness itself but not by thinking. Realization is the self-conscious consciousness "I am", it is a state of consciousness that realizes "I am consciousness" but it is not a state of mind.

The most direct and effective path to the self-realization is this: to divert attention of consciousness from everything that I as consciousness am aware of and invert it to my "Self", consciousness which I am and which is conscious of everything but mainly of the "Self" itself.


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