By George A. Boyd ©2015
Q: In the Advaita approach, they declare that the entire universe is illusion (Maya), and that only God (Brahman) is real. Where does spiritual evolution, as described in Mudrashram®, play a role in this perspective?
A: It doesn’t. Realizing that one is Brahman is primary and fundamental in the Jnana Yoga approaches of the First Cosmic Initiation. If we compare the models of development in the First Cosmic Initiation side-by-side, you will see the similarities and differences between them. The Advaita approach is subsumed under the Sudden Realization Model. This model, and the other six models of development of the First Cosmic Initiation, is described below.
- Progressive Uncovering of Realization Model – In the progressive development model of Samkhya Yoga, cosmic consciousness appears to pass through seven realizations that promote progressive enlightenment and final liberation of cosmic consciousness. These are:
- Union of attention and identification with cosmic consciousness (Tat Twam Asi)
- Cosmic consciousness pervades the entire physical universe, is Divine in nature, and is ultimately one with the Supreme Brahman (Aham Brahmasmi)
- Cosmic consciousness pervades the physical, astral, and causal universes and is merged in the Cosmic AUM (Adhyatma Brahman)
- Cosmic consciousness gains union with the Supreme Intelligence of the Divine Light at the top of the ideational universe (Prajnanam Brahman)
- Union of cosmic consciousness and Brahman, which brings the highest bliss (Satchitananda Brahman)
- Anointing of the cosmic consciousness as a Yogi Preceptor to help others gain union with Brahman
- Migration of cosmic consciousness to its origin (Kaivalyam), liberating it, and reawakening as the Astral Soul
- Vertical Ascent Model – As attention ascends up the thread of consciousness, it encounters the personal identification centers of the ego and the Self; the immortal essences of the attentional principle, spirit, and ensouling entity; and integration centers of the Superconscious mind (nuclei of identity). Attention contemplates the three immortal centers, and gains union and identification with them. Your attention is trained to focus on the ensouling entity at the cutting edge of spirituality, and gain union and identification with it. In this model, Brahman is encountered when the Astral Soul becomes the cutting edge of spirituality, and the Astral Soul ascends through the Cosmic Sphere to the level where Brahman dwells. One does not, in this model, become Brahman—the Astral Soul, and cosmic consciousness aligned with it, gain union with this ecstatic stage of union with Brahman, but then, transcend it.
- Sudden Realization Method – Through keeping attention fixed on Brahman, you come to realize that only Brahman is real, and your human life and the entire universe are illusory and dream-like (Maya). This model recognizes that when “ignorance” is dispelled, you realize that you are Brahman—and that any conceptions of individual identity, such as ego and Self; or subtle identity, such as spirit and Soul, are part of that illusion. This model posits that the way you transform into Brahman is through insight and realization. This model is common in the Vedanta and Advaita groups. By disidentifying with the other aspects of potential identification, you train yourself to believe that you are Brahman. This approach also seems to discount the spiritual evolutionary process, and does not highlight the development of any essence to become Brahman—rather, in this perspective, you are Brahman now, and you have always Brahman, so there is nothing to evolve—you only have to awaken to this Ultimate Reality.
- Ecstatic Union with Brahman Model – By using special breathing methods (Pranayama), Kundalini awakening, mudras, and ecstatic dancing, your attention unites with Brahman, and you experience Samadhi. This model emphasizes opening awareness to the seventh chakra (Sahashrara) of the Cosmic Man/Woman where Brahman can be known and experienced. In some versions of this model, Kundalini is seen as the engine that opens the cosmic chakras and leads cosmic consciousness to eternal union with Brahman (Nirbikalpa Samadhi).
- Mantramic Tunneling Model – Through using a mantra keyed to cosmic consciousness, this essence can progressively enter the presence of the gods and goddesses of the universal causal Subplane, and ultimately gain union with the Pure Consciousness of Brahman. Transcendental Meditation™ and mantra yoga traditions of the First Cosmic Initiation embrace this model.
- Devotional Model – Through invoking the gods and goddesses, and your Yogi Preceptor, you receive their Grace. This transforms your character, and moves your cosmic consciousness closer to Brahman, until you gain perfect union with Brahman through love. This method typifies the approach of the Bhakti Yoga lineages.
- Transformational Model – By using Kriya Yoga as a transformational method, the Divine Eye center moves into union with Brahman, and carries cosmic consciousness with it to this same state. The Light Immersion (Translation) that Cosmic Masters grant, and the Light Fire of the Agni Yoga traditions unfold the Astral Soul into this state of union with Brahman. These approaches begin by focusing on the Divine Eye center (Kriya Yoga) or the Astral Soul (Agni Yoga and Light Immersion attunements), and skip over development in the Subtle, Planetary, and Transplanetary bands of the Continuum.
In Mudrashram®, we focus attention on the immortal essences at the cutting edge of spirituality. In these other approaches, you focus your attention upon centers in the Cosmic Sphere—upon cosmic consciousness, the Divine Eye center, or the Astral Soul—or upon Brahman in the seventh chakra of the Cosmic Man/Woman in the First Cosmic Initiation. In Mudrashram®, only when you migrate to the Cosmic Sphere—when your cutting edge of spirituality becomes the Astral Soul—do you contemplate these centers.
While Advaita brings about bliss and Realization, it does so through four methods:
- Dispassion – Losing all desire for worldly objects and aims
- Detachment – Keeping your attention constantly absorbed in Brahman
- Dissociation – Entering a state of consciousness where your personality and the world seem unreal
- Disidentification – Training your attention to no longer identify with your ego, your Self, your spirit, your Soul, your Monad, or even cosmic consciousness—you instead re-identify with Brahman
If these four practices are sustained for long periods of time, they will reliably bring about identification with Brahman.
However, if we inspect the vehicles of consciousness and the spiritual essences—attentional principle, spirit, and Soul—of someone who has ostensibly realized Brahman, we discover there is no change in their spiritual evolutionary status. The Soul Spark, Soul, or Monad do not move forward, but remain in their current state. Some exponents of Vedanta and Advaita acknowledge the presence of cosmic consciousness—Vedanta, for example, calls this essence, the Atman—but suggest it only advances through insight and realization that any apparent separation between Atman and Brahman is illusory. This perceived separation of Atman and Brahman is construed as a result of ignorance, which vanishes upon the realization that you, in truth, are Brahman.
In Mudrashram®, we point out that Brahman is the form of God that you realize in the First Cosmic Initiation. While it is seen as the summit of spiritual attainment and realization in many Yogi Preceptor traditions, we note that it is only a way station upon the path in the upward ascent of the Astral Soul through the Cosmic Sphere—and there are further spiritual evolutionary potentials that you can develop in the higher Initiations of the Cosmic Sphere, and in Supracosmic and Transcendental Spheres beyond the highest levels of the Cosmic Sphere.
So collapsing everything into union and identification with Brahman will guarantee bliss, and will make you realize that the entire universe is illusion. We hope, however, in your quest to realize that the world is illusion and only God is real that you do not fall into delusion about your actual spiritual evolutionary status—or worse, that you assume you are a god-like being and ignore your humanity.
We also call your attention to note that while Brahman realization is an exalted state of consciousness, there are many stages beyond it, and you need not limit your spiritual development to this station on the Path. [Those who wish to know about the stages beyond Brahman will benefit from reading our article, “The Great Continuum of Consciousness.”]