The Essential Point Of Sadhana

The Essence of the Nondual Teaching

The essence of the nondual teaching can be succinctly formulated:

  1. There is only one Reality.
  2. And you are That.

For those rare beings who see the Truth of these statements (i) immediately (i.e., at least “sudden awakening” [kensho]) and (ii) completely (i.e., full, or great, awakening [sahaja samadhi]), there is no sadhana.

For how can there be any need for sadhana when one knows exactly who one is? As Ramana Maharshi often says, “Does a man need to remind himself constantly, or at all, that he is a man? No, because he self-evidently knows it.” Just so with a true jnani.

Avidya, or Ignorance

If, upon being heard or read, the nondual teaching is not immediately intuitively clear (cf. gnosis), then it implies that there is a gap between one’s intellectual understanding and unitive understanding. 

That gap has been called avidya, or ignorance. One articulation: “I know that I am, but I do not know, in terms of gnosis, what I am.” That is, “I do not know yet what I am told, or have read, I truly am.” This, in a word, is ignorance.

The Essential Point of Sadhana

The essential point of sadhana is to close the gap completely between intellectual understanding and unitive understanding. It does so by removing, in point of fact, “the non-existence of ignorance” (Ramana Maharshi again). It takes away the belief, via gnosis, that I am not enlightened right now.

A common analogy to illustrate the point: if, for the longest time, I’ve perceived that X is a snake and if, right now!, I see that X is and has always been a rope, then my ignorance about the nature of Reality has been removed. I just see the rope with all ideas of the snake having been instantaneously dropped!

Similarly, sadhana dissolves ignorance, all veiling, with the result that  

  1. There is only one Reality.
  2. And you are That.

is known fully, intuitively, clearly.

Sadhana: In Two Parts, or Stages

Kensho, or sudden awakening, reveals that “ordinary mind is Dao.” That is, the curtain has been lifted. However, so long as there is not yet stability in this knowledge, spiritual practice is to be continued.

Indeed, spiritual practice must be continued until one is established in, and as, Dao. This is called “great, or full, awakening.”

There is no, nor can there be, any practice once one has been established in sahaja samadhi. Referring this stateless state, The Essence of the Ribhu Gita observes:

30. Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a still mind devoid of differentiation of Self and non-Self even while being engaged in the activities of worldly life, is called the state of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in the Self when all differentiation has ceased). This is called Akhandakara vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the body’ notion of those who have not realised the Self. (Ch.18, v.40)

The Essence of the Ribhu Gita, p. 8 (PDF p. 14)