Although from the point of view of Awareness, there is no progression to Awareness, no “development” or “stages,” many of us who haven’t “arrived” believe there is a progression. And this belief is reinforced by some of our teachers: Rupert’s videos on “The End of the Search for Enlightenment” walk us through 3 stages. In one discussion, Frances Lucille speaks of those who have had glimpses, those who have reached different stages, those who become “established.”
We can often see the difference between people who have lost their ego, dropped all but the basic needs of the separate self, and those who express themselves from the perspective of separation and duality. I see it in myself. Today, at the zoom meeting, I felt a need to show my pottery, “my creations.” Rupert says it’s ok to act on your desires if you’re acting out of love, not from a sense of lacking. I make pottery and paintings out of love, but I sometimes show them out of neediness.
And I know I don’t really create anything. Creative ability flows through me from the source. But maybe that ability is not so “great.” A professional artist in the group once said, sort of jokingly, “I don’t want to be one of those tacky Facebook artists.” I thought, “Ah, that’s what I am, a FB artist!” There’s a sign on the wall in the studio where I go to do pottery: “Just because you’re anti-social, no one understands you, and no one wants to be around you—that doesn’t mean you’re an artist.” I think, “They’re talking about me!” I appreciate reminders to be humble, not revere the separate self or its outputs.
One of the signs that I’m “getting closer” will be when I no longer need the validation of others. I don’t need to prove myself (and I also won’t need to critique myself). Of course, the True Self is whole and complete. It’s the separate self that needs approval.
Something I appreciate about our non-dual groups is that people are pretty tolerant of the separate self: We know that it will show itself. Some of the more realized people may believe it’s something to be transcended, or negated. Others might believe it’s a manifestation that can be appreciated, but not “fed” or recognized as an independent reality. Sometimes, there are gentle reminders, but I’m glad we don’t often play whack-a-mole.
I go to these meetings to discover myself, uncover myself, be vulnerable. I know the True Self doesn’t need to learn anything, it just needs to be unveiled. Or maybe I must unveil myself. Nisargadatta says to be vulnerable to reality.