"O Mankind, What Foolishness is it that Distracts you from the Mercy of your Lord?" ~ Qur`an
THE CAUSE AND THE END OF SUFFERING
Why Self-Realization is Not an Attainment
“Even a little practice of the inner religion
will save one from dire fears and colossal sufferings.”
~ Bhagvad Gita ~
In the Sanskrit teachings the cause of suffering is linked to one single thing, and that is Ignorance (avidya). But it is also noted that this ignorance is of one single thing, the Self, our True Self, the one who Knows God and doesn't claim differently. It is said "Who knows himself, knows his Lord." It is also said, "One knows God only to the extent one knows oneself." It must also be noted that the ignorance spoken of here is considered not to be an accident, but a deliberate action. In other words, we deliberately ignore. To ignore means "to pay no attention to", which is a deliberate action.
Ignorance is not an accident. It is a deliberate action. Otherwise we would have no personal responsibility for, nor control of, our destinies and we would not be "able" to attain enlightenment. It would simply be left to chance, which is what so many people conveniently claim. But if ignorance is a matter of chance, then why do we believe that with proper action self-realization, or "enlightenment", can be "attained"? And what IS the proper action? It is said in the Bhagavad-Gita that only a few moments of the right contemplation will save one from dire difficulties and an unfortunate end. All of the steps in the eightfold noble path of Buddhism begin with the word "right".
From the standpoint of the so-called "unrealized" self, self-realization becomes and "attainment". But that speaks to the fact that it is not a matter of chance rather a result of deliberate action. Hence we set ourselves on the "path" of self-realization. But what does this "path" lead to? Ultimately it will lead to "self-realization". But what IS the realization of the self realized? Among other things it is that we were never NOT self-realized, but practicing some strategy of deception which we ultimately believed to be our truth.
So what is it that the self-realized did in order to "attain" their self-realization? Well, one thing is certain. They gave up the illusion that they were not self-realized. How could they give it up if it were simply a matter of chance? They must have realized that the "ignorance" they were "suffering" from was a deliberate self-imposed action, a strategy, a product of choice, and decided not to do that any more.
And why do we self-impose it upon ourselves? In a word - training, conditioning. We were trained to believe otherwise; we were conditioned to believe in fear. If that were not so, why would the Prophet have said that all children are born Muslim (surrendered) and it is their upbringing that changes them. We all have three kinds of conditioning, innate, imposed and acquired.
We cannot change what we cannot own.
Self-realization is not an attainment, it is a Gift.Our ability to recognize God and perceive our reality is inherent, innate. Otherwise why would Allah say in Qur`an, "O Mankind, What Foolishness is it that Distracts you from the Mercy of your Lord?"
It is our deliberate ignorance of this gift that is the cause of suffering.We must give up the habits of false humility and self-deprecation in order to manifest our true understanding of our selves as self-realized. This is enlightenment. We are enlightening ourselves by realizing ourselves as enlightened.
The realization of the non-existence of the personality built around our self-denial is referred to in Sufi lore as Fana (where the oneness of God is all there is). Qur`an says of the earth and ALL that is in it, "Kullu man alaiha fan", or all that is on it is non-existent.
The Real attainment is the overcoming of the memories of falsehood, the learning of adab, the correction of behavior by realizing the establishment of ourselves in the Truth - or our real existence as the slaves of God. This establishment is called in Sufi Parlance, "baqa", or the Real, abiding (Eternal) Life. To not allow the old habits and beliefs any influence is the real work, not the illusory work of attaining something of which we know nothing for our selves which do not exist. What exists is God and what God creates abides forever - souls: spiritual realities having an experience of mortality.
And to aid us in the establishment of Reality through our denial of other than It, we have the three realities according to the Buddha: "Buddha, Dharma, Sangha", or: Teacher, Teaching and Students.
For it is and was only fear that caused us to deny our true selves, and we need not live in that anymore, for Allah says in Qur`an, "and for the true friends of God there shall be no fear upon them nor shall they grieve." (la khawfun alaihim wa la hum yakhzanun."