Ten Paths to Self-Realization/Enlightenment

10 Ways to Self-Realization/Enlightenment

This is an outline of ten approaches to spiritual Enlightenment from the most direct approach to the least direct method. Each pathways has its own methodology and its own terminology. There are similarities and differences between the various perspectives, paths and practices but there are ultimately two basic principles that unite all approaches or methods of Self-Awareness for the purpose of Self-Realization/Enlightenment. What is the one element or principle that all of the most direct means to Self-Realization have in common? Defocusing of awareness. This is the one practice or principle that is present in all direct paths to Enlightenment. What is the single element that is integral to all of the least direct spiritual paths? Focusing of awareness.

Every roundabout way to Self-Awareness is based upon and rooted in practices of focusing of awareness. When one understands these two fundamental points, one is in a better position to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different spiritual practices, methods or disciplines. Is it a spiritual method or is it a psychological method? Does it focus awareness or does it defocus awareness? All ambiguity can be removed through understanding these two principles of practice.

Given that most spiritual practices are derived from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, this view explains the hit and miss nature of the majority of spiritual traditions. The fact of Patanjali's methodology forming the underpinnings of practically all spiritual practices and methods, within Yoga, Buddhism or Taoism may be due more to historical accident rather than to any significant practical misunderstanding, mistaken notions or major oversight on the part of the many spiritual teachers throughout history. There have always been two paths, one being based on the incorrect methodology of Patanjali and the other being based upon the correct methodology of defocusing awareness. The majority of approaches are founded upon the arguments and assumptions of Patanjali and as a consequence are incorrect methodologies. The rarer practices are those that have elaborated methods based upon the correct methodology of defocusing awareness. These are the paths that have catalyzed and precipitated the most consistent results that speak for themselves.

This is not meant to be an attack upon or devaluation of methods for focusing awareness. Methods that focus awareness are useful, if properly understood and when appropriately applied. We need to focus awareness for many reasons and for a variety of purposes just not for Enlightenment. There is nothing wrong with focusing awareness per se, it is just an incorrect methodology or an inappropriate approach for Self-Awareness. Focusing of awareness may be a pathway to many things, such as success, creation, evolution, development, growth, learning and experience but it is an unreliable, inconsistent and variable method of or for Self-Awareness. A correct methodology for Self-Realization/Enlightenment can only be based upon the practice of the defocusing of awareness. An unfocused objectless awareness can only be achieved through the practice of defocusing awareness. Every object-focused awareness is only a distraction from the natural state of awareness which is realized directly through defocusing.

I include ten ways in my list to point one in the right practical directions. There may be new teachers, with new tricks or gimmicks but I doubt that many will surpass the indications to application given by each of these 10 paths/teachers/methods.

Here is the list of the ten ways to spiritual realization from the most effective to the least effective:

1. Dzogchen - Self-Liberation

2. Douglas Harding - Self-Seeing

3. Richard Rose - Reverse Vector

4. Ramana Maharshi - Self-Inquiry

5. Hesychasm - Mystical Prayer

6. Zen - Zazen

7. G. I. Gurdjieff - Self-Remembering

8. Vipassana - Psychological Witnessing

9. Mindfulness - Physical Witnessing

10. Patanjali - Samyama

1 comment:

dhopper said...

Am I to understand then, that Dzogchen can be simply explained as dropping everything? Since you put it at the top of your list as the most effective "path". I would enjoy reading more on this topic of unfocused awareness. Are you still an active blogger?