This is a practical and comprehensive treatment of various issues involved with the idea of Enlightenment. The author has attempted to remove the mystery and explain the phenomenon of Enlightenment to pave the way for true understanding. This a MUST read for everyone, not just a 'spiritual seeker'.
The subject matter is covered in 10 chapters ('Me' and the 'Other', Suffering, Spiritual Knowledge and its Pursuit, Enlightenment, Liberation, The Guru, Death and After, What should 'I' do ?, Karma, Bhakti an Jnana Marga, God). The Appendix where the author discusses about 'karma', 'nirvikalpa samadhi vs sahaja sthiti (samadhi), meditative techniques is excellent. In the Questions and Answers the author addresses the questions such as outward appearance of a sage, whether the world is an illusion, the inverted asvattha tree of life depicted in Bhagavad Gita 15 th chapter, is very revealing, and helpful.
Here is a selection of paragraphs from the book.
"Symbolic thinking gives him the ability to symbolise and conceptualise 'himself' as a separate entity over and above the body-mind, and the fear of future death and annihilation gives him the incentive and reason to thus conceptualise. And so in his rejection of death, is born the idea of the separate soul or ego, which is considered to have existed as a separate entity even before the birth of that body-mind, and which will survive after its disintegration."
"Enlightenment is defined as the intutive understanding that one is not a separate entity."
"Also, the essence of bhakti or devotion, whether in Christianity (the teaching 'Thy will be done') or in Hinduism (self-surrender) implies ultimately, not that there is a separate entity who is perpetually to accept the Lord's will over his own, but rather that there is no separate, autonomous, independent entity apart from God to have any will of his own. Surrender does not mean constantly subjugating or subordinating our will to His, but rather understanding once for all that there is no separate 'we' to have any such separate will."
"The 'I' is such a label. It is the label for a particular body-mind complex, and it is mistakenly taken to be a separate entity by itself, over and above, and apart from the body-mind, whose label it is. This is how the fictitious entity is born - this is the genesis of separateness, scientifically explained."
"'Within' the One Consciousness there are the myriad body-mind units. The 'one' unitary Consciousness operates through the brains of these units, which it uses as instruments of sentience. Thus we are all points of awareness, perception and expression of that One Universal Consciousness."
"For as long as it is the entity which wishes to eliminate itself, it cannot. And as long as there is any 'wishing' or any question of 'achievement', the entity is involved, and there can be no 'success' in the endeavor. By no amount of mental gymnastics or contortionism can the entity achieve its own dissolution."
"It is only when there is a totally different type of seeing or perception, when there is no 'wish' to change, when there remains no question of 'achievement' or 'success', that it is seen very clearly that there really never was an entity ever."
"The disappearance of (the illusion of) the entity cannot be 'achieved' because any achieving is done by the entity itself. It can only happen."
"In fact, it is the self-image that we perceive as the fictitious, illusory, phantom 'me'. The 'me' is thus a mental image which we carry, and is nothing but a conglomerate of past psychological experiences etched in our minds as memory - 'nothing but a bag of edited memories'."
"In short, developing so-called 'purity' (strange though it may sound) is not a precondition to Enlightenment. In fact, it is the other way around. An unenlightened person can never hope to be really 'pure' - rather, it is Enlightenment alone which can make a person totally 'pure'. This is because the root cause of the 'impurity' is the 'me'. When that disappears, 'purity' naturally follows."
"The guru cannot therefore grant true knowledge, for true knowledge, by its very bature cannot be given or received. He can only give conceptual knowledge."
"Enlightenment is an event which is spontaneous, unpredictable, and causeless. Causeless because it cannot be the effect of any specific cause. It it were, then it would have been predictably achieved by invoking that cause. The intuitive understanding which constitutes Enlightenment cannot be learnt or 'had' from another person, however great or illumined. Nor can it be brought about or induced by any particular effort, method or technique. Therefore the only thing to be 'done' is to try and understand the situation intellectually."
"The question 'Who am I' ? actually consists in bringing ourselves face to face with the fact that there is really no 'I' (as a separate, independent, autonomous entity, apart from the Universal Self). It is rather meant to confront us with the truth that whatever doubts, questions, desires or ideas we may have, since there is in fact no 'I' for whom these questions would have been relevant, that is the point we should rather pay attention to and appreciate (rather than try to address each individual question, doubt, etc.)"
"Once, the fact, that there is no I is deeply understood, the very realisation that there is nothing to be actively done or achieved, itself gives a tremendous sense of relief and peace, and results in the spontaneous dropping away of all conventional me-based (purposeful) spiritual efforts. Thus, the shedding of me-based efforts occurs before enlightenment, upon the intellectual understanding. Indeed, it is this which creates a suitable environment for Enlightenment to occur, and it is an essential prerequisite, indeed a sine qua non, for the occurrence of Enlightenment."
"But truly total surrender is not possible for the unenlightened, for total surrender is itself Enlightenment."
"Sahaja sthiti is nothing spectacular, it is not superconsciousness. It is simple everyday living but without the feeling that one is a separate entity with a separate consciousness."
"Many people believe that sahaja sthiti cannot be realised without going through active meditative techniqes, However, this is patently wrong. Sahaja sthiti can be realised directly. In fact it is to be realised directly. Active techniques can prove to be a real diversion and distraction, and deepen or strengthen the illusion that one is a separate ego-entity. The only active technique that could be useful is Self-enquiry because this directly attacks (or questions) the root illusion. All other techniques proceed on the assumption that this illusion is reality."