Is there anything beyond self-realization?
Seeker: Is self-realization the ultimate goal of life or is there anything beyond?
Sirshree: Before answering the question, it is important to know your understanding of self-realization. One day a seeker experiences a deeply profound meditative state. He is in a no-mind state for quite some time. It is an experience of self-realization. Somebody experiences oneness with the universe when he is on a nature trail. He experiences that he is no longer a separate entity. It is an experience of self-realization. It can be said that self-realization is just the beginning. Self-stabilization is the goal.
Self-realization is experienced only when the interfering and comparing mind (termed as the contrast mind) disappears. But what happens after that experience? The mind emerges again and takes credit for the experience saying, ‘I performed meditation, I attained this deeply profound state and experienced realization.’ The mind does not have the understanding that it is not the one that has experienced that state. On the contrary, it was when the mind was not there that the Self experienced itself. Self-stabilization is when the mind does not emerge later. Self-stabilization means remaining stabilized in the experience of Self or Being, or constantly abiding in the truth. It is not just a one-time experience. That is why it is said that self-realization without understanding is futile. The importance of guru is that he ensures that you progress from self-realization to self-stabilization, which is the ultimate goal. Self-stabilization is the basic purpose of life and the prerequisite is the surrendering of the contrast mind.
Seeker: What happens after self-stabilization? I am a little confused between self-realization and self-stabilization.
Sirshree: Along with self-stabilization occurs self-expression. It is expression of the Self through the body-mind mechanism to fulfil its true potential. On attaining self-stabilization at the age of 35, the Buddha continued to spread the message of truth till the ripe age of 80. This is self-expression where his body was used by the Self to express itself after attaining self-stabilization. This self-stabilization and self-expression are the ultimate goals.
If you are confused with the word self-stabilization, then you can call experiences on the path as self-realizing experiences and the goal as self-stabilization. Hence the understanding of self-realization is most important. If self-realization is seen as self-stabilization, then it is the goal. If you see it as a one-time experience, then it is just the beginning.
Seeker: After self-realization, what changes take place in our lives?
Sirshree: After self-realization, what happens is not change, but transformation. Transformation is a total, paradigm shift. For example, when a person begins to climb a ladder to reach the terrace, he moves from the first step to the second. This is a change. But he is still on the ladder. When he moves from the second step to the third, he is probably able to get a better view of the terrace. However, he still continues to be on the ladder. This is what is called ‘change’.
When the person moves from the ladder to the terrace, it is a shift or transformation. When there is only a change, ignorance continues to exist, because you are still at the level of the mind. In the case of transformation, it is not change or alteration, but the whole frame or structure of the programmed mind is shattered and you are directly on the terrace (the Self).
Let us try to understand this further. Suppose you are sitting in a room and there is a pillar blocking your view. Changing your view means getting up and sitting at another place within the same room. Moving out of the room and getting into the helicopter to get the complete view of the room is called a shift or transformation. Self-realization is this shift or transformation, and not merely change.