Nirvanasara – Chapter 7

Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of Advaitayana Buddhism
Da Free John (Adi Da Samraj) – 1982

Table of Contents


The Three Views of Consciousness and Light


There are three views or orientations relative to consciousness that have historically been adopted by the schools of the Great Tradition. Each of these views is justified as a mode of orientation under one or another circumstance of attention, but each view is only one alternative way of characterizing the same subject. Even so, the historical application of these three views has tended to represent one or the other of them as the only correct view. It is this tendency that has caused the general historical conflict among the schools or traditions that represent the point of view of one or the other of the first six stages of life, and, in particular, it has caused the schismatic conflict among the separate schools of Buddhism and between the traditions of Buddhism and Advaitism.

These three views of consciousness are similar to the views that have been historically proposed (in both scientific and spiritual traditions) relative to the subject of light, or energy. Light or energy is often used as a metaphor for consciousness in the considerations of philosophy. And, ultimately, the subject of light or energy is identical to the subject of consciousness. Consciousness, it will be Realized, is the ultimate Identity or Real Condition of light or energy (and thus all phenomena).

If we can appreciate the considerations of the advanced physics of contemporary science, we can see how the scientific investigation of matter ultimately yields to a description of Nature as light (or energy), transcending matter (which is only a temporary appearance or transformation of energy). And if we can understand that all of phenomenal Nature (subjective and objective) is a complex of energy, then we can transcend the dualism of matter and consciousness. Consciousness, then, is not merely reducible to matter (or material processes) but it is at least a distinct form of the single principle (or energy) that is also appearing as matter (or form). This understanding sets us free to investigate consciousness and mind as dimensions of existence that are equally as real or viable as matter. The investigation of consciousness and of mind (or psyche) is thus just as direct a means for entering into the depths of reality as the investigation of matter. And, therefore, there is just as much justification for the spiritual discipline of self-knowledge and the exploration and transcendence of matter, mind, and self as there is for the scientific discipline that explores the perceptible or material world alone. Indeed, the ultimate philosophical or spiritual process is directly oriented to considerations of greater significance than is the process engaged by merely materialistic investigators. But materialistic science can ultimately go beyond itself into the paradoxes of space-time and light-energy. And when science leads to such profundity, it is at the threshold of the ancient Ways of spiritual and Transcendental philosophy.


In the considerations of Transcendental philosophy, consciousness is the primary and ultimate subject. But such considerations cannot truly begin until the conceit of egoity and mere materialism has been transcended in the practical intuition of the energy, light, or “Spirit” that is the underlying Matrix of phenomenal appearances. Therefore, energy, light, or Spirit, the manifest Matrix of material or phenomenal Nature, is commonly used as a metaphor for consciousness itself. And the viewpoint toward consciousness tends to be determined by the particular orientation to matter, phenomenal events, energy, light, or Spirit that is preferred by the tradition (and the stage of life) in which the consideration of consciousness develops.

Because of the differences in approach eo the consideration of the subject of consciousness, differing conclusions have been achieved (derived from the original premise, logic, or stage of life that provided the basis for the consideration). And those differing conclusions may all be seen to represent one or the other of three basic propositions:

1. Consciousness is always and only conditional and phenomenal (arising temporarily, and never independently, but always in mutually dependent relationship to a vast system of other temporary phenomenal and conditional causes and effects).

2. Consciousness is a noumenal absolute, appearing either as a unique phenomenon (unlike and ultimately independent of all other phenomena) or in a state of inherent identification with the Energy, Light, or Spirit-Power that is the universal Matrix of all phenomena.

3. Consciousness is ultimate Transcendental Being, the Identity of all apparently separate consciousnesses and the Condition of all phenomena and of the Energy, Light, or Spirit-Power that is the universal Matrix of all phenomena.

These three propositions correspond to three distinct views (or modes of inspection) of consciousness. The first proposition is based on the inspection of consciousness of (or consciousness in the mode of extroversion, or the awareness of objects of all kinds). The second proposition is based on the inspection of consciousness AS (or consciousness in the mode of introversion, or the awareness of itself as the principle or subject that is the necessary and prior basis for all objective awareness). And the third proposition is based on the native view, or consciousness IS (which is consciousness prior to all modes of introversion or extroversion, and all modes of limiting identification with self or not-self).

Each of these three propositions and their unique views or modes of inspection of their subject is valid in its own terms. Therefore, each proposition can be consistently applied as the basis for a complete and self-contained philosophical system. Indeed, this has in fact been done in the various schools and cultural systems of the total Great Tradition of human consideration.

The first proposition is the basis for all materialistic and “realistic” philosophies. Thus, it is the common basis for the perceptually based logic of the first three stages of life. It is the basis for atheism and the doctrines of scientific materialism. And it is also the basis for the “realistic” philosophies of the sixth stage of life, such as is reflected in the original or Hinayana school of Buddhism.

The second proposition is the basis for all “idealistic” philosophies. Thus, it is the common basis for those esoteric schools and traditions that express the “idealistic” point of view in the terms of the fourth, fifth, or sixth stages of life. It is the basis for fourth and fifth stage Emanationist mysticism (in which consciousness is raised to a state of contemplation of and then unity and identity with the Energy, Light, or Vibratory Spirit-Power and Life-Consciousness that is felt to be the Substance of all phenomena. And this same “idealistic” view of consciousness is otherwise made the basis for the sixth stage Advaitic philosophy of exclusive inversion upon the principle of consciousness.

The third proposition is the ultimate basis for Transcendental philosophy. It is the spontaneous expression or Confession of Realization in the seventh stage of life. In its true form, this unique proposition is made only in the case of Transcendental Realization, wherein the propositions of the first six stages of life are inherently and tacitly transcended. This is the basic proposition of the Way of the Heart, and it is to this ultimate proposition that all Great Adepts Awaken, even if they approach that Awakening via the two lesser propositions and the six conventional stages of life. Therefore, this same proposition may be found in the midst of all traditions that achieve Completeness. It is evident by implication (rather than concrete description) in the Teaching of Gautama (and Hinayana Buddhism), even though the language of that Teaching is basically confined to the “realism” that characterizes its particular form of the sixth stage approach to life. It is also evident in the Teaching of Advaitic sages of the highest type (such as Ashtavakra and Ramana Maharshi), 1 even though the language of Advaitic Teaching tends to confine itself to the “idealism” that characterizes its particular form of the sixth stage approach to life. And this same proposition may here and there be found in the expressions of great fourth and fifth stage mystics, who have at least in moments glimpsed the ultimate Condition of self and world.

There does, however, appear to be a problem reflected in the exclusive and absolutist claims of advocates and practitioners of the various traditions. Those advocates and practitioners who have not yet entered into the disposition of the seventh stage of life often imagine that their appropriate task is to conceive of their own path in absolute terms and to conceive of the differences between their path and other paths in such terms that no reconciliation or common ground can be admitted. For this reason, the Great Tradition may seem to be a mixed bag of absolutes and absolutists, as if hundreds of lunatics were all claiming to be independent God with the right of rule over all others.

It is in our unique moment in history, when all traditions and all propositions are equally visible (due to a world-wide communicativeness that is making all provincialism obsolete) that we must consider the apparent differences among traditions with a new kind of wide intelligence. And my Work is devoted, in part, to provide the critical means for understanding and transcending these differences, so that the mass of traditions may rightly be comprehended as a single and dynamic Great Tradition.


The third of the three propositions is the proposition based on ultimate Realization, whereas the first two propositions are the expressions of “realistic” and “idealistic” orientations of egoic (or phenomenal) awareness in the first six stages of life. However, the first two propositions are not merely false. They are simply conventional. From the point of view of the Transcendentally Realized or seventh stage disposition, the orientations represented by the first two propositions are understood and accepted as conventions of the phenomenal self. Adepts in the seventh stage may even at times Teach via conventional descriptive language that is based on the viewpoint of the first two propositions. But such is only a Teaching device, applicable in the setting of instruction, and used for the sake of serving individuals who are yet practicing (or qualified for practice) in the lesser stages. Even so, the ultimate language of the Way is necessarily radical, or an expression of a “point of view” that transcends phenomenal egoity and the first six stages of life. And the logic of that ultimate language corresponds to the third of the three basic propositions.

The metaphor or analogy of light is a useful tool to serve our understanding of the three propositions. If consciousness is conceived as a kind of light, then the three propositions can be seen as descriptions of three ways in which light (or consciousness) can be observed (rather than as three exclusive interpretations or definitions of light, or consciousness, each standing in contradiction to the other two, and all together demanding that we choose one or the other as the only correct idea).

The first proposition is based on the observation of objects in the light (of consciousness). It is a matter of seeing light (or consciousness) only as it is reflected from objects. In this view, light (or consciousness) is observed in the form of objects—or the visibility, perceptibility, or knowability of phenomena.

The context of the first proposition is the ordinary observation of phenomena. Light makes objects visible (or observable), and this first view is based on the observation of phenomena. Here consciousness is observed as consciousness of objects (or phenomenal events). It is a matter of observing the phenomenal event of consciousness extroverting, or reflecting on (or being aware of) objects. And this view of consciousness is then used as a means for describing and defining consciousness from the “realistic” point of view.

The “realistic” point of view is simply a convention based on confinement of the observation of consciousness to the circumstance of objective or phenomenal awareness. This confinement results in the idea that consciousness (or light) is only manifest as (or in the context of) objects in space and in moments of time. Thus, from the “realistic” point of view, neither consciousness nor light is conceived to be a continuous independent medium behind (or in front of) phenomenal objects, or space-time, but consciousness or light is conceived to be merely one of the phenomenal events of space-time dependently arising with all of the other elements, objects, forms, and forces that are observed by corisciousness or via the light.

This view has provided the basis for the philosophy of materialism (in which consciousness and light are interpreted in exclusively materialistic or phenomenal terms). Materialism reduces all quantities to its own status. Therefore, materialism is the natural basis for atheism and conventional scientism (which tends toward reductionist and materialistic views).

And this same phenomenal “realism” has been made the basis for the sixth stage arguments of conventional Buddhism. In that view, consciousness is considered only in the context of the phenomenal or born personality. It is contemplated only as one aspect of a complex or composite phenomenal entity. Therefore, it is not described in any other terms (or as it might be Realized to be in the Nirvanic Event of utter transcendence of the conditional mode of being). Therefore, in the original language of Buddhism, consciousness is conceived to be only one among many “dharmas” or constituent elements of phenomenal existence—none of which is absolute and prior to the others, and all of which arise in mutual dependence on all the others in a beginningless and endless flow of causes and effects. Therefore, consciousness, like all other conditional states or processes, is temporary and discontinuous (or always arising on the basis of a present cause and effect circumstance, rather than as a continuous phenomenal or noumenal reality that transcends and always stands behind the flow of observed events). In this view, consciousness is not regarded as a permanent, continuous, or independent reality. And, therefore, the sixth stage view of Buddhism does not conceive of the self (even in its most profound depth) as a soul, or a permanent continuous reality. There are simply moments of phenomenal existence, each arising as a result of the moment before, and all of which is a plastic of mutually dependent causes and effects. It is this “realistic” conception that provides the basis for the Buddhist view of the non-necessity of phenomenal existence, self, or consciousness. It is all seen as an unnecessarily caused process, perpetuated by the arising of desire, and capable of being uncaused by the cessation of desire.

The limitation of this “realistic” philosophy, whether it is used to express the viewpoint of conventional materialism (or the materialistic consciousness typical of the first three stages of life) or the viewpoint of Transcendentalism (as in the case of Buddhism) is that it provides no basis for any larger view than phenomenal “realism.” Therefore, if the end of life or the end of philosophy is the cessation of phenomenal existence, the ultimate proposition of this point of view is necessarily nihilistic. The conventional materialists are satisfied with this implication, although they still seem to want everyone to live this dying life with great orderly enthusiasm. But the Transcendentalists are not satisfied with this implication. Gautama was not a materialist but a Transcendentalist. He argued for a Way toward Transcendental Realization that progressed on the basis of criticism of the limitations of the necessarily “realistic” (or merely phenomenal, limited, dying, repeating, and ultimately pleasureless) life of the ego. He was not, like the conventional materialists, arguing for the vigorous embrace of phenomenal existence. And he did not see the cessation of phenomenal existence as annihilation.

Rather, he saw it (and Realized it) as an Awakening into perfect and “unborn” Freedom, Bliss, or Happiness. Gautama’s language of argument was intentionally limited to the “realistic” proposition, and he was, therefore, silent (or intellectually unwilling and logically unable to offer descriptions) relative to the ultimate Transcendental Reality. Gautama could point the Way to that Reality, but he did not offer language to describe It (since he was strategically unwilling to use metaphysical language, which always suggests a kind of phenomenal eternalism rather than utter Transcendentalism). Clearly, what Gautama Realized and pointed toward is That which is suggested in the third (or seventh stage) proposition relative to consciousness—or the proposition of the utterly Transcendental Reality that is Realized in the case of perfect transcendence of the limitations of phenomenal egoity.


The second proposition is based on the observation of consciousness in a fashion that is the most obvious conventional alternative to the form of observation that is the basis of the first proposition. Using the metaphor or analogy of light once more, the viewpoint that is the basis of the second proposition is the observation of light (or consciousness) at its source rather than in the context of the illumination of objects. It is as if, when standing in a room, one looked at the light bulb in the ceiling rather than at the objects in the room and the visible room as a whole. The second proposition focuses on light (or consciousness) itself rather than on the objects illuminated by the light (or known to consciousness). Thus, if the first proposition is based on consciousness of (or consciousness reflecting on physical and mental, or gross and subtle, objects), the second proposition is based on consciousness as (or consciousness self-aware, inverted on itself, seeing itself distinct from all its possible phenomenal objects).

This proposition corresponds to the “idealist” (as opposed to the “realist”) view of existence. It is the basis of all conventional religious or spiritual language, all of which is based on the idea of a noumenal Source (!ight or consciousness) that is eternal (or always behind, or in front, or outside the flow of phenomenal changes). This view is specifically intended to counter “realistic” phenomenalism and nihilism.

As is the case with the argumentation of Buddhist “realism,” the argumentation of this “idealistic” view may also make use of the idea of “dharmas”—or the idea that phenomenal existence is composed of distinct phenomenal constituents. The “idealist” view considers consciousness as one of the constituents (or “dharmas”) of the phenomenal world and as the basic constituent of the phenomenal self. The “idealist” method is to analyze the self in terms of its apparent hierarchy of constituent elements and functional parts (or “sheaths”). 2 On the basis of this analysis, consciousness is located as the basic or root component. But the “idealist” view considers that if we examine (or invert upon) consciousness itself (which is the knower or witness of all the extended functions and objects of the phenomenal self, or bodymind), that very orientation toward consciousness permits and determines a different awareness of consciousness and a different presumption about consciousness than is permitted and determined by the “realistic” orientation (which sees consciousness indirectly, only in the context of the moment to moment awareness of objects and states). To observe consciousness as itself (as the witness, or the “light” that illuminates and knows all phenomenal objects) is to observe and know it in an altogether different mode than is made evident in the context of objects.

From this “idealist” point of view, consciousness as a “dharma” or constituent of phenomenal existence is not rightly understood if it is seen in the context of objects rather than as itself (as a direct source of “visible light” rather than an indirectly viewed “light” source, seen only as its reflection in the form of a field of illuminated objects). Therefore, when the “dharma” of consciousness is viewed directly, it is not seen to be merely one among many dharmas, arising in dependence on, as an effect of, and with the same status as all of its objects. Rather, the “light” (or consciousness) that otherwise shines on and illuminates or knows phenomenal objects (or objective “dharmas”), and which, in that context, takes on the dependently arising form of moments of mind (or conditional awareness), is a discrete “dharma,” or absolute and independent element of existence. If consciousness inverts directly on itself, it intuitively discovers that it does not arise discontinuously, by causes that are arising successively, moment after moment. Rather, it discovers itself to be an unbroken, unqualified reality, continuous, without any necessary reference to objects, states, or outside causes. The “idealist” (inverted upon consciousness) asks the “realist” (extroverted via consciousness): If phenomenal existence is composed of discrete “dharmas” or constituents, and if, at the point of death (or disintegration) of any phenomenal being or composite form, each of the constituents returns to its own elemental or “dharmic” state (so that the previous individual being or form no longer exists), then where does consciousness go? What difference could death make to consciousness since it only returns to consciousness and thus remains as consciousness, even as the watery part returns to water and remains as water (or in a purely inert or insentient condition)? If consciousness is examined in and as itself (and thus effectively as it would be after the disintegration or death of the present body-mind), it shows itself to be an inherently continuous and indestructible absolute, always prior to and independent of (or not dependent for its existence on) objects and moments of space and time. Therefore, when death occurs, consciousness is not and could not be changed or ended, but always remains continuous as itself, free of the conditioning or binding power of space-time processes. From the “idealistic” point of view, consciousness, known in and as itself, is not dependently arising with all other phenomenal constituents but it is the ultimate essence or primal element of phenomenal existence. It is the ultimate principle in the midst of phenomenal existence. It is that which grants sentience (and thus both reality and apparent necessity) to phenomenal existence. It is that which is involved in and apparently limited by phenomenal existence. It is that which must be Realized, in itself, to transcend phenomenal existence. And it is that which must thus be disentangled from dependence on, limitation by, and dependent arising with the lesser “dharmas” (or insentient parts) of phenomenal existence.


The orientation of “idealism,” or the second of the three propositions relative to consciousness, does indeed provide a logical and consistent and experientially verifiable means for transcending the nihilistic tendencies in the materialistic and phenomenalistic arguments of “realism,” or the point of view organized on the basis of the first of the three propositions. However, it is not without its own inherent limitations. And if we could say the root error of “realism” is nihilism (or the idea that there is nothing left over when phenomena come to an end), we could say that the root error of “idealism” is eternalism (or the idea that there is a phenomenal essence that never comes to an end).

The “idealist” tradition tends to develop on the basis of the exoteric and esoteric philosophies of the religious and spiritual culture of Emanationism. Therefore, the ultimate “idealist” arguments (which appear in the sixth stage language of the varous schools of Upanishadic Advaitism) tend to be built upon the religious and spiritual conceptions of the Emanationist tradition and the first five stages of life. It is for this reason that the “idealist” tradition, even in its sixth stage form, is associated with the idea of the eternal soul (or the inner self as a permanent, ndependent, and even phenomenal entity or “atman”). And that sixth stage tradition is also often associated with God-ideas, traditional religious cultism, and even yogic processes of contemplation that develop the conventional mysticism of psychic ascent via the mechanics of attention in the nervous system (toward the ascended “nirvikalpa samadhi”).

The cultural tradition associated with the second proposition is also commonly aligned with a conceptual philosophy in which consciousness is conceived as one of two principal manifest forms of the ultimate Divine. The other of the two is contrasted with consciousness and is evident as all that is insentient, or not consciousness. In this view, consciousness is, in the Hindu tradition, commonly called “Purusha,” and all that is not consciousness is called “Prakriti.” And the ultimate goal of the fourth and fifth stage mysticism of this view is to attain a form of contemplative absorption (or trance “samadhi”) in which the distinction between consciousness and all that is not consciousness is transcended in the Realization of the Consciousness/Energy (or “Purushottama”) that is the Source and Substance of the phenomenal worlds.

The sixth stage schools of this “idealist” tradition generally continue to make use of the conventional concepts of soul (or “atman”), God (or “Purushottama”), “Purusha,” and “Prakriti” as the basis for the description of a Way of ultimate liberation that finally Realizes an utterly Transcendental Condition. Therefore, the ultimate argumentation of the second proposition goes beyond the exoteric and esoteric conceptions and mysticism of the “idealistic” culture of the first five stages of life. And it proposes a method or a path that cuts through the ideas of soul and God and the Heavenly Abode. Therefore, that same method cuts through the esoteric yogic techniques of mystical ascent to higher cosmic planes (or states of mind) and “nirvikalapa samadhi” (or the trance-ecstasy, dependent on the mechanics of the egoic bodymind, in which there is a temporary vision of Unity).

The ultimate traditional schools of the second proposition are the sixth stage schools of Upanishadic Advaitism (including the tradition of the Yoga Vasistha and culminating in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta), and although the traditions of Samkhya and Jainism were originally built upon a materialistic or non-Emanationist view of phenomenal existence, they too were clearly founded on the “idealist” point of view of the second proposition. These schools or traditions are also the inheritors and, to one or another degree, the bearers of the Emanationist and animistic language of the cultural and yogic traditions of Shaktism and Shaivism as well as Vaishnavism (as represented in the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana), but it must be understood that the sixth stage schools always stand in critical relation to the traditions of the first five stages of life. Therefore, it is in these specifically sixth stage traditions of “idealism” that the second proposition relative to consciousness is developed in its purest form, free of the more conventional religious and spiritual associations of the first five stages of life. And it is in the sixth stage arguments of “idealism” that the fundamental limitations and conventionality of the second proposition are made most clear in philosophical terms.


The second proposition, like the first, is founded on a conventional (or phenomenal) view of consciousness. Therefore, like the first proposition, it contains an inherent error (or conventional prejudice) that prevents it from describing or representing its subject simply and ultimately, as it is. It can be said that the first proposition represents a materially phenomenal conception of consciousness, whereas the second proposition, in contrast with the first, represents a noumenal and absolutist conception of consciousness. Even so, the second proposition still represents a relatively phenomenalistic approach to the subject of consciousness—and this is the root of its inherent error or prejudice.

The ultimate or sixth stage philosophy based on the second proposition considers consciousness as an absolute noumenal phenomenon, or as one of the constituents of conventional or phenomenal reality. It views consciousness in the context of phenomena and from the point of view of the phenomenal self. It conceives of a path or method for Realizing a state of exclusive identification with consciousness. That Realization is considered to be liberation or Truth, since it separates consciousness from the phenomenal not-self and thus effectively solves the apparent “problem” of egoic suffering. And that Realization is based on meditative inversion of the phenomenal being, or the concentration of attention on consciousness rather than on any insentient phenomenal object.

The ultimate or sixth stage cultures of both the first and the second propositions suffer from the limitations of a phenomenally based logic. That phenomenally based logic may, in each case, provide a practical means for approaching Transcendental Realization, but in neither case does the base proposition provide a viable conceptual structure for describing the Transcendental Reality Itself (or the Transcendental Condition or Status of consciousness). And, in both cases, the method and the concepts of the original path of practice must be utterly transcended before the transition to actual Realization (or the seventh stage of life) can be made.

Clearly, then, the philosophies and practices of the sixth stage of life are based on limiting conventions (as are the philosophies and practices of the first five stages of life). And it would seem altogether preferable to consider the Way of Realization directly in terms of a proposition that represents the point of view of the seventh stage of life while yet providing a structure of practice for those who are yet involved in the psycho-physical cycles of the first six stages of life. This is in fact the basis for my own Teaching Work, and it is the third proposition that provides the conceptual basis for the ultimate descriptions of this seventh stage point of view.

The second proposition is limited by its phenomenal orientation toward consciousness. It views consciousness as a noumenal absolute, but it contrasts that noumenal absolute with all other constituents of phenomenal existence. Therefore, the second proposition is based on the conception of a contrast between consciousness and all that is not consciousness. And this requires that the point of view toward consciousness be limited to the plane of phenomenal events. That is, consciousness is not conceived in ultimate or truly Transcendental terms but always at base in phenomenal terms. Like the sixth stage traditions of the first proposition, the sixth stage traditions of the second proposition are limited by the conception of “dharmas,” or phenomenal constituents. The difference between the two is simply that the sixth stage schools of the first proposition (such as those of the early Buddhist tradition) conceive of consciousness as a dependent constituent of phenomenal existence, whereas the sixth stage schools of the second proposition (such as those of Samkhya, Jainism, and of Upanishadic Advaitism) conceive of consciousness (or the ultimate essence of the conscious being) as a noumenal but nonetheless phenomenal absolute.

As I have already indicated, the distinct and, to some degree, mutually contradictory conceptions of schools separately based on either the first or the second proposition are due simply to the arbitrary selection of one or the other of the two principal conventional orientations that may be adopted relative to consciousness. I have used the metaphor of light to help make it clear that these two propositions are not based on two absolutely unrelated and inherently contradictory conceptions of their subject. Rather, they are simply based on two different orientations to the same subject. Each of those orientations is a legitimate alternative in the context of phenomenal experience (just as one may either look at a room full of illuminated objects or at the lamp that is illuminating them). But when either of these two conventional (or merely phenomenal) alternatives is embraced exclusively and rigorously applied as the basis for a logic of ultimate Realization, then the paths separately designed by each focus inevitably begin to contradict (and, historically, even oppose) one another.

I am trying to demonstrate that these contradictions are merely conventional and of no ultimate consequence, and the historical oppositions are of course absurd, unnecessary, and merely destructive. In any case, when either of the two primary approaches is exhaustively applied to the point of actual Transcendental Awakening, the conventional or merely phenomenal point of view is itself utterly transcended. Then the conceptual and meditative apparatus of the first six stages of life loses all utility and falls away in Transcendental Wisdom, or Transcendental “Samadhi” (free of all the egoic and psycho-physical limitations of the phenomenal “samadhis” of the stages of life previous to the seventh).

Gautama entered into that Transcendental “Samadhi” in the moment of his Enlightenment. And so also did Advaitic sages such as Ashtavakra. And in such “Samadhi” (which is “Sahaj Samadhi,” or natural, native Transcendental Awakening) the propositions that may have provided the original path of approach no longer apply—because such propositions are founded in a purely phenomenal and egoic or un-Enlightened context of mind rather than in the Transcendental disposition of Enlightenment. Therefore, those Adepts who have actually completed (and thus gone beyond) the “sadhana” or practice based on either of the two conventional propositions begin at last to express themselves in different terms about the matter of Realization and Reality. They may prefer silence (or non-verbal transmission, as in the case of Ramana Maharshi), or they may engage in the strategy of denial of the applicability of conventional language to the description of That which is Realized (as was the case with Gautama), or they may behave strangely and speak in paradoxes or in the form of apparent nonsense (as in the case of certain individuals in the Ch’an or Zen tradition and in the Crazy Wisdom tradition), or they may try to construct a language of philosophy that is compatible with ultimate Realization (as in the cases of Nagarjuna and Shankara). Even all of these forms of communication and transmission may be used by Awakened Adepts, and my own Teaching Work is an example of the use of all such possible means.

All “Completed” or seventh stage Adepts are faced with the fact that the conventions of language and behavior (even of traditional philosophical language and the prescribed behavior of traditional religious and spiritual practice) are all based on the phenomenal, psycho-physical, and thus necessarily egoic point of view. And what the Adept would and must communicate or transmit is the Transcendental Reality, or Awakened Realization of the Transcendental Condition of all phenomenal conditions.

The philosophies and the cultures of practice that are based on the first two propositions relative to consciousness are based on the conventions of the phenomenal, psycho-physical, and egoic point of view. They are intended to motivate and lead practitioners beyond the phenomenal (or “dharmic”), merely psycho-physical, and egoic point of view, but they do not provide a base for the ultimate description (or even the direct intuition) of That which is to be Realized. Therefore, another language and logic is needed to describe the Transcendental Reality and the ultimate Way of Its Realization. And it is the third proposition relative to consciousness (as Transcendental Reality rather than phenomenal event) that provides the basis for that language and logic.

The philosophies of both the first and the second proposition tend to organize themselves around the idea of a “problem” to be solved. That “problem” is the phenomenal point of view or context of existence itself. The philosophy of the first proposition tends to conceive of a path based on the “uncausing” of the phenomenal process. And such can lead, in itself, to the ideal of mere nihilism. The philosophy of the second proposition tends to conceive of a path based on inversion upon consciousness to the exclusion of all that is apparently not consciousness. And such can lead, in itself, to the ideal of the isolation of consciousness as an exclusive, absolute, and eternal phenomenon. The ultimate philosophy, which is founded on the third proposition, is inherently free of the “problem” and the conventional logic of phenomenal egoity. Therefore, it is not organized around the language of phenomenal existence. Rather, the ultimate philosophy is an expression of the always prior and inherently free Realization of consciousness as it is (as Transcendental Consciousness, rather than as consciousness in the context of either association with or separation from phenomena).

In the disposition represented by the third proposition, consciousness is Realized in Its Real Status, not as one of the “dharmas” or constituents (whether absolute or conditional) of phenomenal existence, but as the “Dharma” or Truth or Real Condition or Transcendental Identity. It is not a matter of consciousness extroverting toward objects or introverting upon itself. It is a matter of consciousness directly and intuitively Realizing Itself as the Transcendental Condition of all phenomenal conditions. Consciousness thus Realized is the Condition of that consciousness which is described either in the form of proposition one or proposition two. It is Consciousness as it IS, always and already, whether or not phenomenal conditions arise in the form of apparent self and/or not-self. Consciousness as Reality is not merely appearing in the form of phenomena, as the knower of phenomena, or as a phenomenon exclusive of or unlike other phenomena. It is simply Itself, always and already— and all phenomenal conditions are appearances or merely apparent, unnecessary, and non-binding modifications of Itself.

Consciousness Realized in the terms of the third proposition is not viewed by or in contrast to any other or phenomenal condition. It is the Condition and ultimate Substance of self and world. It is not merely Spirit-Energy (which is the phenomenal Matrix of the phenomenal world). It is the Condition or Truth and Reality of the Spirit-Energy, of Light, and of all lights and sounds and heavens and hells and worlds and embodied beings. It is the Condition or Truth and Reality of all of Nature, of all “dharmas,” of the phenomenal self (or body-mind), of the presumed soul (or “atman”), of phenomenal consciousness (or “Purusha”), 3 of all that is phenomenal but not consciousness (or “Prakriti”), and of all the forms and ideas that are called God, or “Purushottama,” or the Eternal Creative Other. Consciousness is ultimately Realized and Proclaimed to be Transcendental Being, the Condition of all phenomena and even of the All-Pervading Energy that is the Creative Matrix and Mover of all phenomena. Consciousness is to light (or Energy) what light (or Energy) is to forms or phenomenal conditions of all kinds. It is the Transcendental Context of phenomena, even as light (in its ultimate form as the Creative Energy behind and within all phenomenal forms and processes) is the phenomenal Context (or Matrix) of all phenomena. (Therefore, light is a useful metaphor for phenomenal consciousness, and Energy may be a conventionally useful object of contemplation or psycho-physical submission, but light and Energy are, in Reality, nothing more than phenomenal appearances of and in Transcendental Consciousness.)

The Realization expressed via the third proposition is not dependent on either extroversion or introversion of attention. It transcends the phenomenal mechanism of attention itself. It is the tacit, motiveless, free, and prior Realization of the Obvious, or That which is always already the case. It is the free Realization of the Condition that is Consciousness. That Consciousness is not an object to us, nor is It merely within us. It has no necessary relationship to phenomena. It is simply the ultimate or Real Context of the phenomenal self and world (in any of the gross or subtle planes of cosmic Nature).

The tacit Realization of Transcendental Consciousness as the Obvious Condition is the natural or native Realization of Reality, Self, Being, Love-Bliss, or Radiant Happiness. It is not dependent on any state or conception in body or mind, but it may be apparently obstructed by the various phenomenal states and relations of body and mind. Therefore, until the Obvious is Realized, there is utility in the conceptions and practices that release energy and attention from bondage to the context of phenomenal egoity. But in our “natural” or native state of profound equanimity (or free energy and attention), Consciousness is tacitly Obvious as the Transcendental Condition of self and not-self.

Therefore, the ultimate Realization of Consciousness (as expressed in the third proposition) makes possible a Transfigured or inherently Enlightened phenomenal existence in any phenomenal world. Just so, the Enlightened disposition is such that, without seeking to seclude Consciousness from phenomena, It will ultimately Outshine (and always already inherently Outshines) all phenomenal worlds and self states.

Therefore, this third proposition is the basis of the conception of Consciousness in the Realized, Enlightened, or seventh stage of life. The traditions of the first six stages of life generally seek to Realize that Radiant Transcendental Consciousness on the basis of arguments and practices based in the phenomenal and thus inherently egoic point of view of the born being. Therefore, the leading or conventional arguments of the traditions are based either on the first or the second of the three fundamental propositions I have described. However, all traditions that achieve Completeness ultimately transcend their own original propositions and practices in the Transcendental Awakening of the seventh stage of life, and that Awakening can only be expressed (if it is to be described at all) via the ultimate language of Transcendentalism (and thus via the language of the third proposition).

My own life and Realization confirm this, and I have, therefore, argued for a Way of understanding and practice that immediately transcends the phenomenally based and egoic “problems” and propositions of the first six stages of life. The Way of the Heart is founded on the Realization of Consciousness (or Radiant Transcendental Being) in the seventh stage of life, and I argue for a consideration and a practice that make the radical understanding (rather than the conventional practice) of the first six stages of life (and their phenomenal or egoic propositions) into the basis for direct Awakening into the Realization of the Truth of the seventh stage of life.


1.The sage Ashtavakra, or Astavakra, is referred to in the Mahabharata (III. 132 and XIII. 19-21). His name became associated with the Ashtavakra Gita, a Vedanta text which Sri Adi Da has identified as a premonitorily “seventh stage” document. Sri Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai was one of the few premonitorily seventh stage Adepts of this century. He lived from 1879 to 1950. See: The Unique Sixth Stage Foreshadowings of the Only-By-Me Revealed Seventh Stage of Life.

2.Vedanta generally recognizes five “envelopes,” viz. the “sheath made of food,” i.e., the gross body (annamaya-kosa); the “sheath made of vital energy” (pranamaya-kosa), the “sheath made of mind” (manomaya-kosa); the “sheath made of awareness” (vijnanamaya kosa); and, lastly, the “sheath made of bliss” (anandamaya-kosa). The transcendental Self (atman) is said to be beyond these covers.

3. In the systems of classical Yoga and Samkhya, both purusa and prakrti are treated as noumena. Since Nirvanasara, Adi Da uses the above terms differently: From the “point of view” of Radical Transcendentalism the Totality of Existence is only Purusha (or Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Consciousness Itself). See The Five “Points of View” .

Nirvanasara Table of Contents