What is Integration after enlightenment?
When a seeker stabilizes in LOC 1000, he is said to have achieve enlightenment/ self-realization. He is now in unity consciousness as his limited self is totally merged with the Divine Self, the Primordial Consciousness. He peels through his layers of mind and connects with the core of his being - the Self.
At LOC 1000, he finishes his spiritual seeking. This is it. He has arrived at his coveted destination.
LOC 1000 is the END of his spiritual journey, but this is just the BEGINNING of his life.
In a sense, he has never truly lived his life before LOC 1000 or self-realization.
But now, he is reborn like phoenix. He has arisen from the ashes of his limited myopic sense of self, and now he has opened his heart and mind to God.
Previously, he was out of sync with the God Consciousness. Now, he is letting himself be showered with Grace.
He has reached the peak of the mountain. This marks the ending of his lifelong spiritual journey.
He now knows the magnificent experience of standing on the top of the mountain. He can now feast upon the magnificent view of nature’s vista. It’s exhilarating and life changing.
But, since he conquered the mountain peak, now what? He needs to get down from the peak. Otherwise, how can he call to others about his adventure?
From the peak of the mountain, everything down there looks so tiny as if they are almost non-existent. But they are still there. He now needs to descent from the peak and go back to his usual down-to-earth life.
The process of descent is where the process of integration starts. Integration occurs when the awakened person starts living his life according to his spiritual realization. He tries to live his life, from moment to moment, in harmony with his Self (not the thinking, analytical self). In other words, this is where he starts to walk his talk.
Self-realization is a change of perception of who you are as well as what the world is about. It is the realization that you are the Self and the world is your Self.
But you need to apply this profound realization of Self in your everyday life, so your heart and mind, your thoughts and beliefs, your emotions and experiences – all these things get attuned with inner Self. The attunement of your everyday life with the spirit of being is what I called Integration.
To put it simply, Integration is the yoga (union) of Self-realization and everyday living.
I can’t offer a clearer and more precise definition of Integration than the one given by Sri Aurobindo. Although the following definition was given by Sri Aurbindo on “Yoga”, nonetheless I think his definition of yoga can also be applied to define “Integration”. After all, Sri Aurobindo himself was very intimately familiar with the concept of integration and it was him who coined the term “integral yoga” in his book - The Synthesis of Yoga and The Life Divine.
Sri Aurbindo, explains yoga as
not only the realisation of God, but an entire consecration and change of the inner and outer life till it is fit to manifest a divine consciousness and become a part of divine work'
If we take accept that Sri Aurbindo’s definition of “Yoga” can be equally applicable to the concept of “Integration”, then we can easily see that -
“realisation of God” = Enlightenment
“an entire consecration and change of the inner and outer life till it is fit to manifest a divine consciousness and become a part of divine work" = Integration
Affirmation, not negation, is the essence of integration
Before enlightenment, many seekers practice the way negation. In Sanskrit, this approach is called “neti-neti” approach which means "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that"
In the way of negation, the seeker discards everything as non-self to realize his Self, which is Primordial consciousness.
The basic premise of this method is this: If you can observe anything, then you are not the thing you observe.
You have thoughts, but you are not your thoughts.
You have mind, but you are not your mind.
You have emotions, but you are not your emotions.
You possess things (such as cars, money, opulence, influence etc), but you are not those things you possess.
The seeker continues to negate everything as non-self (not related to his true Self), until he realize his Self (the real “I”). Realizing his Self, the seeker can now proclaim those famous words: “I AM THAT”
Negation is the foundation of all Self-inquiry practices.
Negation is also the path of renunciation, as the seeker is trying to overcome the influence of external objects that he thinks are part of him, but not actually him.
The way of negation is good as long as you are a seeker.
However, when you actually realize you Self, you need to discard the way of negation.
After enlightenment (LOC 1000), you need to adopt the way of affirmation.
When you realize your Self, you need to realize that everything else is also your Self.
That means his everyday life is also nothing but an expression of Self.
Negation and affirmation are both sides of same thing: which is realization of the Absolute. They both offer unique perspectives on life. However, negation usually helps you to realize the formless and transcendental part of the absolute - the Brahman. But God is as much as immanent as he is transcendental. We need to realize the immanent aspect of God also. In order to do this, we need to embrace this life (and whatever baggage that it comes with) as God.
After all, all there is and all there ever will be is this Self (God)
The goal of integration is to realize in the two divine aspects (shiva-shakti) of one reality. Below 1000, it can be incredibly difficult to realize the embodied nature of consciousness because our sense of separation is deeply ingrained and attached within our body. Remember, even Ramana Maharsi used to say something similar along this line: drop your idea that you are the body and you will realize Self.
So, below LOC 1000, we tend to purposefully neglect or ignore our body (to invalidate our separate self) so that we can first realize the non-embodied aspect of the divine, the Brahman without attributes. Only then, we realize that the body (and everything else) that we utterly ignored during our spiritual practice are actually also made of same Brahman that we are.
…….. this interconnected and interdependent wholistic relationship is rarely acknowledged in daytime reality. To them "other" beings and things (phenomena) appear solid, disconnected, separate, substantial, ad compounded. They do not place "events" as occurring in a natural continuous integral context. For the sincere practitioner, it is recognized at first as magical ecstatic states, glimpses, satoris, highs, spiritual emergence. It is experienced as clarity, feelings of harmony, beauty, bliss, love, and high level wellness, completeness, and fulfillment, in comparison. Later, it is the unification (yoga) of "Absolute Reality" of the inseparable unification (yoga) of consciousness with infinite diversity (differentiated consciousness), which is nothing other than pure being (sat) -- unification of (Sat-Cit-Ananda). Source
Negation Vs affirmation: A Classic tale of Ramakrishna and his teacher Totapuri
I copied this beautiful story from Ramaji’s book “1000”. This is a story of Totapuri, who was one of the teachers of Ramakrishna. I picked this story because it shows the value of seeing and embracing everything else as Self or Absolute. Self is not only your inner reality, but it is also your outer reality. Actually, there is no such thing as inner and outer reality. It is the Self appearing as inner and outer reality.
Totapuri was a skyclad (naked) wandering monk smeared with ashes when he showed up to be Ramakrishna's Advaita Vedanta guru and personal guide to the Absolute. His rule was to never stay in the same place longer than three days.
After he initiated Ramakrishna into the Absolute, he was so impressed by Ramakrishna that he broke that rule and stayed with Ramakrishna at his Dakshineswar Temple for 11 months. He contracted dysentery so painful he could not meditate.
Since he did not think of his body as having any value or significance, he decided to drop the body by drowning it in the Ganges river. Even though Totapuri was a big man, as he walked out into the deep river, his body would not sink.
As the story goes, no matter how far out into the river he walked, the water never rose above his knees. He ended up standing on the opposite bank of the river.When Totapuri turned around and looked back at the Kali temple on the other side of the Ganges river that he had just walked upon, he saw that it was radiating a beautiful light. In that moment, he experienced an awakening in which form and formlessness were united. He realized that the manifested world is none other than the supreme Absolute itself.
When he had arrived at Dakshineswar Temple, he was still rejecting the world. This made the "world" real for him. It had made sense to him to reject his physical body because he was so committed to rejecting this illusory world. This view is a very subtle trap. Totapuri had not yet seen through it. Totapuri was still stuck in the LOC 900s at LOC 917 when he met the great Ramakrishna for the first time. He was still LOC 917 until he had this breakthrough in which he realized the Absolute. In that moment, via the Grace of Ramakrishna and Kali Ma, he realized the Absolute and went to LOC 1000.
Why Integration is important
Integration is important no matter whatever level of consciousness you are, but you can reap the greatest benefits of integration when you are at post 1000, after you’ve become enlightened.
Why? Because at LOC 1000 state, the small "i" or limited ego is gone. The limited self that habitually suppress, hide, misappropriate or run away from problem is gone baby gone.
That means all that shit that you didn't deal with before LOC 1000 will bubble up eventually after LOC 1000 and you need to integrate it in light of your realization.
Problems will remain, but suffering is still optional
After enlightenment, our confusion of real our identity (who am I) dissolves.
However, it takes a while for our body-mind to assimilate and readjust to our new perception about life. Our body-mind, as wonderful creation of God as it is, is very slow to adopt radical viewpoint that you’ve acquired after awakening. This is why, even after enlightenment, the habitual clinging to problems may still persist. This habitual clinging is the biggest impediment to integration.
We say we suffer because of our problems.
In reality, most of us suffer from thinking about our problems, rather than the problems themselves.
We habitually get ourselves entangled with thoughts, beliefs and imaginary outcomes of the problems.
Therefore, after awakening to true nature, it's time to see those problems from your awakened perspectives. You gotta be able to embrace, instead of running way, from your problems.
Even though you are this infinite light called Self, if you do find yourself habitually clinging to your problems or trying to avoid your problems all together, then you are being trapped by transcendentalism. If you think you are the formless awareness, then you must also recognize that awareness is also capable of sprouting endless forms. Therefore, formless and form are one and the same and there’s no point giving preference to one over the other.
Anyone can be a “happy go lucky” guy when he is experiencing good things in his life. But to embrace all sorts of negative problems and to work on them with care, as if they are your own child, requires tremendous compassion and courage.
You now know that everything is Self and there is nothing but that Self. If you can embrace the formless Self, then why not embrace the emanations and manifestation of your own Self, which include -
The mundane Self?
The stressed-out Self?
The afflicted and constricted Self?
The vulnerable Self?
The negative Self?
Though awakening can happen in a moment, there is a (sometimes lengthy) period of integration as the mind dissolves some belief structures and reorganizes others to come into harmony with the new realization that it is not what it thought it was—that it is not the real you.
Depending on the type of awakening you’ve had, this process can be easeful or deeply disorienting and unsettling. If the latter, there needs to be frequent remembering that it is just the mind that is unsettled, for in your real Self or essence-nature, you are always completely okay.
At this point, we need some clarification to avoid the problem of “spiritual bypassing,” whereby some people say, “I don’t need to work on myself at all because my real nature is unconditioned Light, not this messy mind that has nothing to do with the real Me.” This is a dangerous delusion, and it is countered by the following teaching. As described above, you first wake up to your individual essence-nature, that is, the way God vibrates uniquely in and as you, unaffected by all your conditioning.
Second, the mind or conditioned self needs to come into alignment with this essence-nature or else you end up with a kind of split personality: a divine you and a messed-up you. There is no integration.
-Christopher D. Wallis
Quote from his book "Tantra Illuminated"
Shiva goes to pee: even peeing can be sacred
The most sacred thing is the universe is Brahman or Self. Because Brahman can’t be tainted in any way, as it is beyond form, beyond senses, beyond time, space and causality. That’s why it is the most sacred, as it is literally a nothing (NO-THING) at all.
And yet, out of this sacred nothingness, everything is born. Everything is a permutation and combination of this Brahman, born in and out of this Brahman. That’s why everything is sacred.
And we need to realize this truth in our daily life too. We need to carry this sacredness in our ordinary life, otherwise integration will be a difficult task.
Embodiment occurs from this sacredness.
I once emailed Ramaji, describing how even the most mundane things of my experience is very much Shiva-esque.
That email (slightly edited for better public viewing) reads like this:
For past couple of months, I have been experiencing my experiences rather differently. I am not experiencing events; But Shiva is experiencing those events. The experiences, the experiencer and everything in between are none other than Shiva or Kali. Right now, I am scratching my back. The sensation of scratching is born out of Shiva. Shiva is feeling those scratching. And Now, Shiva is trying to relieve them.
I am NOT trying to be vulgar, so I apologize in advance if I offend you, but once I was peeing in my bathroom and I clearly sense that I am not peeing at all. It is Shiva who is peeing. It was Shiva doing his thing. Not only that, this feeling extended to other little things that I don’t usually pay attention. If I am brushing my teeth, I feel Shiva is the one brushing my teeth and Shiva is also the toothbrush and toothpaste.
To see myself to be Shiva or Kali is rather audacious. But I can’t find anything that’s not supposed to be composed of Shiva. My Soul, my flesh all are made by, made of, made for Shiva. And yet, I am just an ordinary guy, a dime a dozen it seems. I don’t find anything extraordinary about me.
My understanding of what LOC 1000 means is evolving. And despite that, it seems I will never be able to accurate tell or say what God actually is. God is really beyond comprehension.
Self-improvement vs. Integration
At this point I need to clarify that self-improvement is not the same as integration.
Self-improvement is a necessary part of human life. To improve the quality of life, you need to improve certain aspects of it.
For example, as of writing this webpage, I am trying to eat more healthy food and trying to do some regular exercises.
I am also trying to get a better day job, because the one I have doesn't pay me that much.
There are other areas of my life that I think I should work on.
However, there is a big difference in the perpective.
I DON'T approach self-improvement a point of view of lack.
I am perfectly content and happy with my life. My inner peace will not get disrupted just because I think I need to improve some aspects of my life.
This may sound extremely paradoxical, but it is true that you can be perfectly content and happy with your life and yet do whatever it is necessary to improve your life and the lives of your close ones.
After enlightenment, everything is spontaneous for me, which includes the impulse to improve my life. The wholeness of my Self remains as it, and still I do whatever necessary to lead a "good" life.
The desire for self-improvement, and the ability to act upon it, both spontaneously arise from God. If God wants you to improve something in your life, he will let you know in the form of intuition, gut feeling, spontaneous will and action.
For example: I aspired to become a RASA giver not because I thought that I would make the world a better place. I wanted to become a RASA giver because desire arose within me spontaneously about 3 years after I went to LOC 1000. Before that, I simply didn't feel that I had "baked" enough in order to become a RASA facilitator. I didn’t belittle myself for being a half-baked nor did I want to improve myself for the sake of becoming a RASA giver. The “baking” process arose spontaneously in my life and I was “tested” many times. Anger, frustration, restlessness, hopelessness and despair – I went through all of them. Yet, I never felt lost in them. I did whatever I could to make the situation better so that those polarized situations couldn’t get the better of me. And yet, not even once, did I lost faith in me and my God (Self).
This is how Integration worked for me. I am still working on my integration process. Integration is not a one-off process. It goes on as long as life goes on. This process is unique for everybody. But the central theme of integration process is Self-acceptance. You have to accept yourself unconditionally (because you are THAT - the pure Self). It is possible to engage in self-improvement as well as integration process while still knowing, deep down in your heart, that you are whole and pure. No matter how paradoxical or oxymoron the statement sounds, it is possible. But such attitude is difficult to muster unless you are properly stabilized in LOC 1000.
Before enlightenment, people often attempt self-improvement from a point of lack. They feel a deep lack within themselves and in order to compensate for that lack, they attempt to improve or change their outside circumstances. This often leads people to conditional happiness. Until they can change or improved something or someone, they will not be able to be content. This also often applies to seemingly good people with good intentions who try to make a difference in people’s lives and make the world a better place.
Even people at LOC 1000 find it difficult to balance self-improvement and self-acceptance. For them, it's one way or the other. Either they feel they don't need to engage in self-improvement because they have attained the highest, therefore they feel nothing could be done, or they attempt to do the self-improvement thing out of habit without putting it in the proper context of self-acceptance and self-realization.
This is not the way Integration works. You can’t integrate your awakening with your ordinary life if you are coming from the viewpoint of lack or deficiency. Through and through, all the way through, you are and you always have been this unconditional loving Self. There is nothing to be added to or subtracted from the pure Wholeness that you are. In this Absolute wholeness, there is no problem and there is no solution. On the other hand, what you call the relative existence (from the point of the Absolute) is also a manifestation of that divine Self. This relative world runs on “problems and solutions” paradigm. This “problems and solutions” paradigm is also another facet of “the relative and Absolute”, and they are just two sides of one indescribable Reality.
Integration is then an act of constant mindfulness of remembering your true nature and the true nature of everything else while you are engaging in problem solving activities.
If that means you have to work on your anger issue, so be it – but do it while remembering the true nature of yourself and everything else. You have to work on your issues while feeling the unconditional self acceptance and heartfelt love that God has for you as you.
I can’t stress this enough. Whatever shit life throws at you, DEAL with it while feeling the unconditional self acceptance and heartfelt love that God has for you as you. Don't do it because you feel like a failure or you feel lack. Do it from complete openness and self-acceptance that stem from knowing who you are – the Self.
This is the path of integration.
Blind spot for awakened people - message from RASA Masters
Ramaji and Ananda Devi are the foremost masters of RASA transmission. Together, with the help of RASA transmission, they have taken more than 100 students to LOC 1000. A majority of these students effortlessly went through the integration process; however, many did find it rather difficult to handle the integration process. Many of these students kept in touch with Ramaji and Ananda Devi (through email) about their situation, and as a result, Ramaji and Ananda Devi know more about the blind spots of Post LOC 1000 students than any other RASA givers out there. Ramaji and Ananda Devi identified some major blockage that many Post LOC 1000 students need to face and overcome.
Ramaji and Ananda Devi hold a fantastic online satsang on this topic. The video of that satsang may be available at the store of their official website. The following writing is an small excerpt of that satsang which has been transcribed by me.
Before awakening - I am THAT. After awakening – I am THIS. I am THAT too
There's a message that's a subtext in spirituality and enlightenment, which is you hear the teaching, 'I am not my body'. Okay, well that works as 'not this-not that' to get you to be awareness, recognize awareness. You know that you are this awareness. Once you've recognized it, guess what everybody? Now it's no longer not this, not that. Now I am this and I am that. So if you have suffering, you embrace it. What do you think “I am THAT” means? I am that means whatever arises, I am that.
Drop your habit of over thinking. It’s gets in the way of being
It's a habit, a habit of thinking, habit of seeking, and that habit of seeking shows itself in the way that we keep on even post awakening, going back into our books, going back into seeing more teachers, more teachings, reading about it, and as long as you're thinking you're not being.
You cannot be in an experience and think about having the experience at the same time. As long as you thinking about an experience, as long as you're thinking about your awakening, as long as you're thinking about anything, you're not being. You can't do the same thing. You can't do it together.
Don’t be afraid to “FEEL”
Feeling is the thing that most of you are terrified about. I Don't want to feel. I've got to think, I don't want to be in my body because it doesn't feel comfortable. I've got to think, I've got to jump from issue to issue instead of being and allowing and you keep on missing. In post awakening, I would say there are three ways of getting around this problem. The first is the intellectual way. You think it until you drop all the thoughts about it because you realize it's not getting you anywhere. You've just got to let go. Surrender be. Then it's kind of like on a gut level - okay, so what is this beingness that I am? What is this force that I am? And then it's on the heart level, what's left other than the feeling. And that’s where you start really getting it. This takes time, but it’s how you integrate.
Why so serious?
If we weren't spiritual teachers, we wouldn't even use words like enlightenment awakening. We would have forgotten about the whole thing and we would have gone on with the show and we never talk about. We talk about it because we're teachers, but I'd be playing golf, or we'd be swimming in the ocean or, or you know, we'd be watching a movie or we'd be doing something else. It's life itself….the whole point of enlightenment is to get beyond it. Enlightenment is the medicine for duality. But once you take the medicine and you're healthy, you don't walk around with the medicine everywhere you know, you live.
Don’t let the stink of enlightenment gets the best of you
Many of you tend to become very self-indulgent. Now when you awaken the small self, the little “i" is the first thing that you know is a fiction. And until you actually really get that, it's not completed. You have to complete the circle. Which is why I always say enlightenment is one of the most destructive processes because you can no longer cling to any belief or any thought. ...
I took my process so seriously, I wasn't going to allow one belief, one thought, one anything. You know, you have to be so vigilant in noticing how self-indulgent you are . ... my problems, my issues, but if there's no “me” or “I” in it, what are you talking about? Really? You're talking about a sensation? It's a bodily sensation and all sensations are so dualistic. You cannot have the opposite without experiencing the other opposite, which is the nature of the human condition. We are going to experience its opposite in order to transcend and know that basically we are that in which these opposites on manifesting, but part of the fun is being in the play, experiencing it without taking it personally.
How to Achieve Integration: The Metrics of Integration
Jnana is enlightenment at LOC 1000, while Vijnana is wholehearted living.
When you combine enlightenment with wholehearted living, you arrive at Integration.
Jnana + Vijnana = Integration.
(Enlightenment + wholehearted living = Integration)
Vijnana is not something one can attain like how one attains Jnana or enlightenment. Vijnana is not a “thing” to be attained, rather it is thing to be practiced all through life. Vijnana or wholehearted living is a way of life.
Vijnana actually combines three “Post awakening” or “Post enlightenment’ philosophies of life.
To put simply:
I have talked about Jnana and Vijnana in details here, so if you are interested, you should check that page out.