Spirituality is a very confusing and sometimes dangerous place. It is filled with competing concepts, gurus, experts, voicing conflicting worldviews, methods, goals, and expected rewards. There is no end to the knowledge base within spirituality.
Seekers come into spirituality for many different reasons:
Seeking truth. That is looking for concepts that they can believe in through truth or faith.
Seeking God. This means somehow contacting something entirely beyond our selves. Something bigger, something “divine,” something immortal. This can be in the form of a belief about God, or a direct experience which we can call God. Such would be experiences of grace, redemption from guilt or fear, experiences of total light, bliss, and inner energies, experiences of complete, total gratitude for being alive. In any event, it consists of experiences that are totally beyond anything experienced to that point in a person’s life that is transformational in some sense.
Seeking emptiness, the Void. This is the focus of Buudhism and most in Advaita accept this as a goal. The intent is to get beyond or “before” a personal self, or “transcending” the personal self and finding the underlying reality of the Void, which is like the pre-Einstein concept of the ether, which permeates and contains all matter, the Void, emptiness, permeates and contains all experience, including of the world and one’s own body, thoughts, and emotions. By dwelling or abiding in the Void we find peace, because we are “larger” than any experience, any emotion, any fear, depression, anxiety. The goal could be Nirvana, or snuffing out of the self, transcending desires and the so-called ego.
Seeking the witness, which is he source of my own existence, the witness, which itself cannot be witnessed. The witness is even beyond the Void because it experiences the Void as an experience of nothingness, or emptiness.
Now the Witness can be believed in as a concept, because it cannot be directly experienced itself, OR, one has a direct experience of one’s own self being the “knower,” as the sense of oneself being the principal of knowing, or that which knows both the experience of being awake and aware, and also that which also experiences unawareness, non-existence. That is, I experience myself as that “something,” or source, that boths knows existence, but also knows non-existence. I am knowledge and the origin of knowledge itself.
This experience can not be explained in any other way because it talks of existence beyond experience, that is aware of existence and (in the sleep state) non-existence.
Seeking spiritual knowledge, psychic powers, healing powers. his is the area of seeking “siddhi” or Subtle Body energies, chi, Reiki, Quantum Touch, astral projection, controlling weather, etc. This is exploring the interface between our common physical world and the internal astral and energy worlds.
Seeking Kundalini awakening. This path is halfway been seeking a direct experience of God and doing energy work in the Subtle Body. All three paths become mixed together. Awakening the Kundalini energies, which is the specific form of the female principle of Shakti within, is a path of energy worship and abidance that leads to ecstatic states of bliss, love, and engulfing energies.
Self-Realization of the Manifest Self. This is my path. This is seeking the direct experience of myself as a personal, human self, as well as the Spiritual Self of the direct experience of God through love, devotion, and self-acceptance of everything that arises when doing self-inquiry or looking and “feeling” within one’s own sense of self, and also feeling witin one’s internal darkness and iner space.
Here the “Self” in its final form realizes the identity of Self as the Void, as the Witness beyond even the Void, as also the direct experience of God, and as direct experience of one’s own spiritual of divine Self, which is also God. One also realizes that one’s own human, personal, limited human self is part of the totality of Self.
Self-Realization of the Manifest or experiential Self, really encompasses identification with all levels of Self, the the experience of oneself as being a human being, vulnerable and dualistic, along with the constant direct experience of the Void, along with the continuing awareness of being that abstract principal of knowing and not-knowing, as well as the direct experience of God, and one’s identity as God.
As such, Realization of one’s self as the Manifest Self really encompasses all levels of spirituality: acceptance of one’s limited human self and groundedness in physicality, direct experience of the Void simultaneously, the direct experience of God simultaneously, direct experience of one’s energy or Subtle Body energies, including Shakti that pervades all levels as does emptiness, and experiencing oneself as the Witness, the knower of all things.