Glimpses of the experience of the Divine Presence can be obtained at the very earliest stages of the Way, and even outside it. It is not at all necessary to be made completely aware in order to sense the power of the Presence. But it is almost impossible, however, to know the nature of the individual Consciousness of a person when it is very incompletely manifested. Too many curtains still remain in a person’s mind, and they introduce distortions into his vision. Only when the Consciousness has fully manifested itself, may a person learn its nature and discover its features. Without the impulse of Grace, however, all of this is good, but does not lead to unity with God. Even Consciousness fully manifested in a person’s being by itself cannot bring him closer to what the Advaitists seek. A person may know exactly that his individual Consciousness has the same nature as the Consciousness of God, but even so, there will not be an experience of this.
That is, all the non-duality, if such knowledge can be related to it, still remains on the level of the mind. Only the impulse of Grace, through which the Lord enables a person to obtain another perception and being will bring, in the end, the experience of something greater. It must be understood that individual Consciousness is given to a person exactly to ensure his existence in this world, and does not contain any more functions, no matter how much someone wishes it. Moreover, even the Consciousness of God is only one of His attributes – and in its significance, this attribute does not stand out in any way from the others; it is not the main one and not the secondary one; it is equal to all the others.
The full manifestation of individual Consciousness in a person’s being does not lead to the automatic unification of it with the Consciousness of God, because this simply cannot be according to the laws of the existence of the world and the people in it. In order for that to occur, and for a person to come to the experience of disappearance into God, serious changes must occur, and new doors must be opened. A number of energy centers located in a person’s ethereal body serve this exactly, and it is exactly through them that we receive the impulses of the Grace of God. In order to overcome one’s limits, a person must be transformed; otherwise, it remains only for him to die, but it is not a fact that even this will help in the sense of obtaining non-duality.
In transformation, the quality of human energies change, and then the opportunity appears for what the Sufis call disappearance into God. But again, this is not entirely that process which the Advaitists describe. Disappearance into God means disappearance of the boundaries between a separate human being and the Infinity into which he in fact disappears, remaining even so in his physical body. The division between the internal and external space is lost, but the ability to distinguish objects is not lost.
Some modern teachers of Advaita say that non-duality is awareness that we are all one. Forgive me, that is possible only at the level of the mind. And to speak of the fact that we are all one Consciousness is also from the same place. This world is full of different objects and there is no point in seeking non-duality in this world. It is divided, there is a lot of things in it, and each person is unique, and therefore it is stupid to mechanically transfer the idea of non-duality on to the perception of people and the world. It is an abnormal approach, very far from reality.
Individual Consciousness completely manifests itself in all a person’s bodies after the maximum possible expansion of the channel of attention, through which it is connected with them. This occurs to the extent of performing the practices of awareness and the general growth of awareness. The high degree of mindfulness “summons” to itself the impulse of the Grace of God, but it can also descend even on an unprepared person. He who seeks and is aware of himself creates a necessity, and how and from what another, Divine necessity, is not given to us to know.
The impulse of Grace cannot immediately bring a person to disappearance in God – that is not realistic. An impulse of such force will simply kill the person it descended upon, that is all. All mystics who have received the impulse of Grace without preliminary preparation had a period of adaptation, a period of changes and even repeat reception of new impulses. It is impossible, having begun practically from zero, to change oneself in one moment so as to go on one of the highest levels in the possible development of a person. On the Sufi Way, serving God leads to disappearance, and even on other Ways, you cannot get by without serving in one form or another. The Advaitists deny the very concept of the Way, and therefore it is left for them only to rely on a miracle of special Grace. Or rely on the mind, trained in such a way so as to deny everything, except the great truth of non-duality.
In disappearance into God, a person changes so that he merges with Infinity, internally disappearing in something inexpressible. But the process of transformation does not end there. All living creatures without exception are given one attribute of God – Consciousness. He who has reached disappearance into God and has passed through it begins to receive additional attributes, and this stage of the Sufi Way is called the stage of being in God. By analogy with how Consciousness fills the whole being of an enlightened person with itself, so, too, does God begin to fill the being of a mystic with Himself – with the help of manifestation in him of His attributes. Since each mystic receives different attributes – of which there are an endless number – then the manifestations of their being in God are not identical, either, but all are unique in the fullest measure.
Identification with the “I,” the created ego, ends at the moment of full awareness of the mind. The sensation of the fulness of presence, which emerges from the manifestation of individual Consciousness, ends along with disappearance into God. Then there is neither the one nor the other, but there is something, undoubtedly, nevertheless. And that something is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, mobile and changeable…and so on. But I am not sure that it has a relationship to Advaita.