Liberation is sparkling awareness. Sparkling awareness is the first and last freedom. Sparkling awareness is pure subjectivity awake in itself, unalloyed with any object.
The objective universe exists as a bridge from sparkling awareness to sparkling awareness. Consciousness projects the universe out of its own energy as an object to perceive. For what purpose? So that, through the act of perception, the subject may reflect back from the object, and become aware of itself as sparkling awareness.
Awareness creates the world in order to perceive it, awaken its own light, and thus experience liberation from the world it has created.
This is a process of ecstasy. Literally ecstasy means "standing out from itself," ek-stasis in Greek. Awareness stands outside itself as the world, in order to become aware of what it is not, so that it may then, through the contrast of opposites, discover what it is.
Sparkling awareness dissolves the external world, its intimate lover, back into itself through love.
Pure sparkling awareness is Shiva. Shiva's world-manifesting power is Shakti, the energy of creation. The appearance of the material world in consciousness, and its dissolution back into consciousness, is their love-play.
The time is coming when the science of physics will verify this ancient Vedic vision. The greatest quantum physicists of the 20th Century have already intimated that this "material" world is made of nothing but consciousness:
"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness." ~Max PlanckOnce realized as Self-radiance, awareness becomes free of the objective universe, its own creation. The liberation and detachment of consciousness from matter is Sankya, attained through the purification processes of Yoga. This de-linking of sparkling awareness from its created universe is the beginning of freedom.
"Modern physics has definitely decided for Plato. For the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word; they are forms, or in Plato's sense, Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the language of mathematics." ~Werner Heisenberg
"All through the physical world runs that unknown content which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness... The stuff of the world is mind-stuff." ~Sir Arthur Eddington
Now awareness is free to make love to the creation from whom it has distilled itself. Sparkling awareness tastes and sees subtler aspects, finer veils of creation's beauty, until it beholds its Self in all. This process of refinement is Bhakti, devotion. It begins when we see God in the Guru. Then our perception widens to experience God in the leaf, the raindrop, the face of the poor, the diamond radiance in a dog turd.
Sparkling awareness solidifies as bliss, until bliss is perceived as every atom of matter. Then one knows through direct perception that every atom of matter is nothing but sparkling awareness. Yet this alchemical process of transforming perception must begin somewhere, in a moment of ignition. Who initiates the process? A living Guru. That is the real function of a Guru.
Yes, many self-authorized "non-dualists" preach that we may by-pass the personal Guru and be instantly realized. But that is mostly intellectual chatter. In truth, the presence of a living master is not an attachment or a form of bondage, but the portal to freedom.
Advaita is not the beginning, but the end of the process. Non-duality isn't a practice, but a realization of the fullness of Brahman, when one beholds the invisible in the visible, stillness in action, one continuum of silence through the chatter of multiplicity. Then the subject perceives her own consciousness in the object. She makes love to her Self through every perception of the material world.
Shakti dissolves into Shiva through the unity of supreme love, and this union is Advaita. Indian philosophy does not present rival schools of teaching, but stages in the evolution of consciousness, moving from Sankya, through Yoga, to Bhakti, and then Advaita Vedanta.
The entire process depends on our ability to refine the experience of pure sparkling awareness. The process begins when we learn to practice transcendental deep meditation, which gives a direct experience of awareness in itself. The practice of transcending into pure awareness becomes our daily stepping stone. The experience is neither waking, dreaming, nor deep sleep - but Turiya, the fourth state of consciousness. Turiya is not awareness of any-thing other than awareness. The fourth state is awareness of awareness.
Objects cannot cling to sparkling awareness, any more than muddy water clings to the golden lotus. Sparkling awareness needs no object other than its Self, because the subject reflects itself, like a mirror reflected in a mirror. When this Self-reflection gets stabilized through daily meditation, one's awareness remains luminous, changeless, taintlessly pure in the midst of activity, whatever the changing turmoil of the world around may bring.
There is no other liberation but the innate condition of sparkling awareness. Great souls from St. Paul to Gandhi, Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, realized perfect freedom even in a prison cell, because freedom lies in consciousness, not in external circumstance. This is what is meant by dwelling "in the world but not of the world."
Awareness sparkles when Wall Street crashes and you lose all the money in your portfolio. Awareness sparkles when your team is defeated. Awareness sparkles in the midst of sudden violence or tragedy. Awareness sparkles among rain-drops on forest blossoms, or rusty chassis junked in an empty urban lot. Awareness sparkles in your breast, even as a sensation of loss or disappointment. Awareness sparkles in the slowly dying eye of a sparrow on your porch, who has just flown into your glass door. The bliss of sparkling awareness is beyond sorrow and joy.
That thread of poignant kindness for a dying sparrow spreads over the town and forest, over the mountains and sea, through all the stars, until it becomes compassion for all sentient beings in the cosmos. Yet this boundless sorrow is made out of sparkling awareness. It sparkles in the grief and beauty of your mother's last breath, as you gaze through your tears at the finished stillness of her lips. It sparkles even in your knowledge that, no matter how tenderly you may have lived, you could not have prevented any pain, or tasted any deeper beauty.
Love is just a word we use: it is not enough to describe the sensuous all-embracing emptiness of sparkling awareness, which, because it is empty, enfolds all creation. If there is any transformation, any revolution, any enlightenment to be gained, it is simply awareness of sparkling awareness, shining through all creatures just as they are.
For awhile we may angrily rebel against the seeming injustices of the world, or desperately try to reform its fickle fleeting forms. Our efforts may feel heroic, but have nothing to do with real freedom. We are not here to change the world: we are here to awaken sparkling awareness. And yet, awareness transforms everything...
The transformation is completely natural, requiring neither effort, control, nor concentration. How much effort is required to wake up in the morning? "Spiritual" techniques merely function to short-circuit the thinking mind that gets in our way, which may increase the likelihood that awareness falls back into itself. But ultimately, our awakening simply happens by Grace.
The projection of matter from consciousness, the intercourse of consciousness and matter, the dissolution of matter back into consciousness - this whole dance of Lord Shiva and Mother Divine plays through every breath we breath and every love-act of sensory perception. It is all carried out by grace, not the effort of the mind.
Therefor, seeker, abandon seeking. Surrender, and repose in the Self. Gurusharanam. Surrender to the one who dispels darkness with the breath of light. Surrender to him in the form of the Guru, and surrender to him in a mote of dust. Use every sensation as an opportunity to accomplish one simple thing: surrender awareness to awareness.
Your awareness is Shiva. Your awareness is God. This is the final truth. This very instant, wherever you are, the Divine is creating abundance, wisdom, and beauty for you to enjoy as awareness, through awareness, for the sake of sparkling awareness.
Jai Guru Dev