Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Extracts from the Book (VI)
Direct Path Teachings

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The term 'Direct Path' comes from the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, the first to proclaim that the traditional long-haul spiritual disciplines, over many lifetimes, were not necessary in order to realise the truth. The phrase that is used in relation to his teaching is ArjavamArga (Arjava - honest, sincere, directness; mArga - track of a wild animal, any road or path) and it is contrasted with what might be termed the more traditional 'progressive' path. This latter term covers the yogas dealt with earlier (bhakti, jnana etc), the four-fold practice of Shankara to purify the mind in preparation and techniques such as meditation. Direct Path is, of course, not really a path at all. This is not to say that this (non-) path is easy, however. Indeed, in a sense it is the others that are easy, because specific tasks can be set and carried out without difficulty. Initially these may be automatic or impeded by too much thinking or feeling but at least there is something clear to be done. In the case of Direct Path, the instructions are less obvious and, with more recent teachers, there is much emphasis on the fact that you cannot actually do anything and there is nothing to be achieved anyway - all potentially very confusing for the 'beginner' in these ideas.

Having presumably read what has gone before, the logic of Direct Path must now be inescapable to the reader. If the Reality is that there is only One, then this must be eternal and permanent, i.e. 'we' must already be it. Therefore, nothing needs to be done or can be done; we just need to acquire the knowledge and then have the direct experience that this is indeed the case. What seems to happen, however, is that our present state of ignorance is such that all of our conditioning and prior experience means that we are unable to come to terms with this immediately. Instead we must follow such 'paths' as have been described earlier, in order to prepare our minds and intellect for the simple acceptance that there is truly nothing to be done. In a sense it is an 'unlearning', a return to innocence, which is why paths such as bhakti - worshipping a non-existent God - can work. It requires a surrendering of all of our claims that we are autonomous individuals, able to make decisions, to act and to enjoy the results of those actions. Not until all such notions have been given up do we become 'ripe' to acknowledge the truth and drop our mistaken notions of separate existence.

It is therefore the case that, practically speaking, Direct Path tends to be for those who have already been through much of the progressive 'stuff', acknowledged that they are not actually getting anywhere but also arrived at the intellectual conviction that there is, indeed, only the Self. When this is genuinely believed, but still not intuitively realised, there is really not much more that can be done, not that anything could ever be done in the first place. In principle we simply give up trying, knowing that it could only ever be the ego that was doing this. Instead, we endeavour to live our lives fully in the knowledge we now have and allow the opportunity for the 'final truth' to be revealed through all of our experience. It is only when you have 'done' all that you can, that you realise as a fact that you cannot really do anything at all.

Extracts from the Book
Summary and Endorsements
List of Contents
1. We are not the ego
2. Thinking
3. How can we be happy?
4. Do objects exist while we are asleep?
5. What is a realised man?
6. Direct Path teachings
Page last updated: 09-Jul-2012