Liberation is utterly different from what most people imagine it to be. Baba always made clear that liberation is not for the individual. He always stressed that the individual cannot be liberated, and that the only way to liberation is to give up our attachment to and wrong identification with any separate identity. I specifically went to Baba because that was what he taught. And what he taught was not ideas. An intellectual grasp of non-duality is all very well, but to know and inhabit that Reality requires a long and arduous grinding down of the individual identity that must be given up. There are plenty of spiritual seekers who believe they can advance toward liberation without doing that painstaking work; they get nowhere, except in their heads.
This process of grinding down the separate self begins with knowing how that individual identity operates. The techniques for this work that I pass on—other than the foursquare, which I created—are all time-honored internal practices that Baba taught. Whether we call it śāmbhavopāya or St. Symeon’s third level of attention and prayer, boring continuously inward toward the Heart is the one crucial practice. It makes no difference where we are on the path; until we reach liberation, that is the practice that matters. It uses the will. If we are not doing this, nothing else we do will get us anywhere; we will only have an “enlightened” small self. The one doing sādhana is not the one who will endure.
The truth that all individuality, all separateness, must be let go, the reality that there is no such thing as a liberated individual, was always evident in Baba’s teaching. But here are a few passages:
When the Shakti of the Self contracts, She is known as a limited individual, subject to innumerable births and deaths. She remains a transmigratory soul as long as She is contracted, but once She expands, She becomes Paramashiva. (Secret of the Siddhas 179).
Bondage and liberation exist only when there is division. The ideas of bondage, liberation, and so on, apply only to a person who, because of māyā, does not understand his true nature and is afraid. (Secret of the Siddhas, 204-5)
“I can do nothing;
it is the universal Self who does all.”
This is sublime teaching.
“I will accomplish this work;
I have already done it.”
This is total ignorance and pride. (Reflections of the Self, 109)
He regards this world not as matter
but as the embodiment of Consciousness.
For him there is no Maya, no body;
whatever exists is Shiva. (Reflections of the Self, 201)
Though a clear and subtle intellect is essential for practice, this Reality can’t be taught intellectually; then it will only be an idea. When I used to stand alone with Baba by the back stair, he taught me wordlessly, through the Great Silence.
What Baba taught me by the back stair is the work of “boring in”. It is the core of the practice, and it rests at the heart of all mystical traditions. We should take it almost literally—the only difference being that we’re not using a drill, we’re using the will to redirect consciousness back into the Heart, through all the bodies. As we practice, our understanding and experience will grow clearer and more subtle. This practice is simple—and very difficult. But it is the practice; anything that doesn’t center on this right effort of the will is off the point. Anyone who claims that this isn’t the heart of all spiritual practice has no real awareness of thousands of years of teaching and lineage and scripture, in all real traditions.
As we proceed in our practice, we will have an ever-shifting understanding of liberation. The less of our separate, shrunken selves there is to “understand” liberation, the closer we will come to the Real thing.