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The Deceptively Easy Ascent

“The roof is clearly visible but it is very difficult to reach it.”

Pithy statements such as this require and deserve complete and intense scrutiny. In one short sentence, the Great Master reveals the presence of nondual Reality and intimates how to reach It, all in the simplest of language.

As we walk about the neighborhood, the roofs of various dwelling places are easy to see. It takes very little effort to make them out. Yet, if one wanted to stand on the roof of one of these houses it would take considerable effort, planning and resourcefulness to make it possible. In the same way, the truth of indivisible Reality is not hard to comprehend. Anyone with common sense, a bit of devotion and a little intellectual development can understand that the Supreme Being is beyond the limitations of this physical universe. It is also obvious to the likes of these that the Eternal One has fashioned the world of becoming and has also entered this arena as the overseer of the process of creation, preservation and dissolution.

To realize and dwell in the atmosphere of Truth, however, where God is always found, is an intense and exacting task. Only those who take spiritual life seriously accept this challenge. Though God dwells here in this universe, He does so as its subtle and sublime foundation, as its transparent substratum, not as its many objects and forms. Ever detached and crystal pure, the essence of Reality does not become involved in actions and deeds but only guides them from a witness perspective, teaching beings through their very own self-actualized and personally motivated process. Therefore, to experience the absolute bliss and freedom of that highest of states, one must necessarily become Godlike and develop mature detachment and Witness Consciousness as well. In order to accomplish this, spiritual discipline must be taken up and sustained while self-surrender and immersion into Reality must be achieved. This is a far cry from a mere affirmation of God’s presence. This reveals the difference between belief and faith. In short, it is one thing to realize that there is a Self and an entirely different thing to realize the Self.

What would it take to reach the roof of a particular house? Initially, one would have to have a reason for doing so. Perhaps to catch the view, to inspect the construction or because of an interest in purchasing a home. Whatever the reason, one must first ask the owner for permission to climb up there. That being accomplished, a plan of action that is both safe and sound would have to be adopted. That, in turn, would entail the gathering of tools and aids and the advice of an expert along the way. Finally, some safety devices that would save one from slipping and falling would be helpful.

In attempting to scale the heights of nondual Truth, the above list is no less essential or applicable. Our reason for wanting to ascend into the lofty region of ultimate realization is a timely and divinely motivated awakening that calls us to uncover the reason for our existence. In keeping with this call, we soon develop a strong spiritually-based desire to “possess the entire landscape of inner awareness,” as Ramprasad, the poet/sage of Bengal, so beautifully sings. With regards to permission, we must first invoke the presence of the Divine Mother within us, for every structure in the Universe belongs to Her. As the Great Master states, “If you want freedom from the limitations of relativity then propitiate the Mahashakti — the Divine Mother of the Universe.”

If assent for this ascent is forthcoming from Her, an agent of Truth called Guru — a universal principle manifesting through certain refined and purified individuals — comes to us as Her emissary with a tried and true technique and begins to tell us how to proceed. This guide reveals to us the sacred scriptures, the quintessential mountaineer’s manual for spiritual aspirants. This precious reflector of God’s light also advises us about the acquisition of certain essential attributes we must have in order to make the journey easier and more possible and points out both the accessible and inaccessible routes used or rejected in the past by experienced climbers. The guru’s advice proves invaluable as we encounter and assault the steep and precarious preliminary levels of refined awareness along the precipitous climb.

When personal experiences, gathered along the way, become fully developed and utilized, we find that these act as ropes, pulleys and other safety devices which save us time and time again from potentially dangerous falls. The welcome company of a few other adept workmen, called holy company, also protects us and provides beneficial aid along the ascent. In the end, when success has been achieved, the view prompts profound inspiration. Thus, scaling the roof of nondual Awareness, that which is apparently easy of access but also subtly deceptive and difficult, becomes possible and attainable through self-effort and Grace.

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