From The Basket of Tolerance: Adi Da describes seven premonitory “seventh stage” texts:
Unique Foreshadowings of the Seventh Stage of Life
by Adi Da Samraj
(FYI: Green words are clickable links to all 7 scriptures found in my 2008 Archive)
The seventh stage
of life is the clear and final fulfillment of the first six stages of life. Its Revelation and Demonstration by My own Form, Presence, State, Work, and Word are My unique Gift to all and All. However, within the Great Tradition itself, there are some few literatures and Realizers of the sixth stage type that express philosophical, or insightful, but yet limited and incomplete, intuitions that sympathetically foreshadow some of the basic characteristics of the by Me Revealed and Demonstrated seventh stage Realization. The Ashtavakra Gita
is a principal example of such premonitorily “seventh stage” literature. It is among the greatest (and most senior) communications of all the religious and Spiritual traditions in the Great Tradition of mankind. The Ashtavakra Gita is the Great Confession of a Sage who has thoroughly engaged the philosophies and practices of the first six stages of life. It is a sixth stage Realizer’s Free (and uncompromised) communication (or Confession) of the ultimate implications of his sixth stage Realization.
Like other premonitorily “seventh stage” texts, the Ashtavakra Gita assumes a tradition of progressive practice in the total context of the first six stages of life, but it does not itself represent or communicate any ideal or technique of practice. It simply (and rather exclusively) communicates the Ultimate “Point of View” of the sixth stage Realizer. On the basis of the Free assertions of such a Realizer, the ordinary reader may presume to take on the attitude that the meditations and other practices engaged in the first five stages of life (and even the sixth stage of life) are at least unnecessary, if not foolish. However, such practices are unnecessary only from the “Point of View” of (and in the actual case of) the Realization such practices are, ultimately, intended to serve. Therefore, even though the Ashtavakra Gita is itself the Confession of the fullest possible Realization of the sixth stage of life, those who want so to Realize must enter into the ordeal of the stages of practice associated with the first six stages of life. The premonitorily “seventh stage” Teaching (as found in the Ashtavakra Gita, and in any other premonitorily “seventh stage” literature, or in the ultimate Confessions of any premonitorily “seventh stage” Realizer) simply puts the progressive stages of life and practice in perspective, and goads the practitioner to pass through and beyond those stages of life and practice as directly and quickly as possible.
Relative to the total spectrum of the first six stages of life, some few sacred traditions are basically complete, in that they are represented by many schools which, if viewed collectively, express all of the first six stages of life in one form or another. (The various schools within any such tradition may even stand in conflict with one another, because each is limited to the point of view of one or another of the stages of life, but the Great Realizers see them all in terms of a progressive unity, culminating in the fullest Realization of the sixth stage of life.) Thus, for example, the Ashtavakra Gita is a culminating expression of the religious and philosophical schools of the early Vedic and Upanishadic tradition. It also encompasses all that is contained in the ancient and modern tradition associated with the God-Idea called “Siva”. That tradition includes the fourth stage devotional tradition of ancient Saivism, the fifth stage philosophy of the Upanishads of the Yoga schools, the fifth stage Yoga of the more modern schools of Kashmir Saivism and the Nath tradition, and the sixth stage attitudes and practices of Advaita Vedanta (which is a tradition founded on Upanishadic non-dualism, and which, like the Buddhist tradition as a whole, is founded on the sixth stage orientation to Truth).
Only a very few other texts are, like the Ashtavakra Gita, the ultimate texts of such comprehensive traditions (encompassing the total range of the first six stages of life). The Tripura Rahasya
, the Avadhoota Gita, and the Lankavatara Sutra
clearly are such comprehensive (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) texts. Like the Ashtavakra Gita, they do not represent a practice, but, rather, they represent the description or Confession of Ultimate (sixth stage) Realization. They each represent the Ultimate Free “Point of View” of a sixth stage Realizer (or at least a sixth stage philosophical tradition) who, by means of the Free Confession of the fullest sixth stage (or premonitorily “seventh stage”) “Point of View” alone, instructs others (who are yet progressively practicing in the context of the first six stages of life) about the Ultimate Realization that is the traditionally presumed Goal of their practice….
The Teaching given in the traditional premonitorily “seventh stage” texts is a Teaching given by a sixth stage Realizer (or a sixth stage tradition) to clarify (usually for the sake of a “ripe”, or fully matured, practitioner of the disciplines of the sixth stage of life) the transition from the practice of the sixth stage of life to the fullest Realization of the sixth stage of life. That Teaching is not intended to argue, “consider”, or describe the practice of any of the earlier stages of life. Rather, the intention characteristic of the premonitorily “seventh stage” texts is the intention to make only an “Ultimate” statement.
There are two principal criticisms I must make relative to the conventional or popular uses of premonitorily “seventh stage” texts (and of esoteric literature in general). The first must be directed to those who casually assume an attitude (or ego-image) that mentally presumes Realization, and, thus, freedom from the necessity of practice (and from the Teaching Help and the Blessing Transmission of a fully qualified Realizer). Such people merely read and think, until the mind begins to suffer the conceit of (necessarily false) Enlightenment (or false Self-Realization, or false attainments in general). In the world of esoteric religion, this heresy of “mind-Realization” is one of the profound faults. Such a conceit of the mind is supported by the open availability of esoteric literature as well as by popular “philosophers” of the lecture hall. And the popular justification of this fault, as given by false authorities (who are often most critical of “authorities”), has interfered with the religious (and potentially Spiritual, and Ultimate) progress of many people….
Until there is Realization, there is no Realization. The reading of esoteric literature may be a positive discipline, but only if it leads the individual to the conviction that he or she is ego-bound (and, therefore, committed to suffering and limitation). On such a basis, an individual may become sympathetic and available to the real process of religious (and progressively Spiritual, and then Ultimate) practice. But those who presume Ultimate Realization in the mind, without practice or Truly Most Ultimate Divine Awakening, have only become enamored of one of the many idols or consoling solutions that distract humanity from the Way of (Most Ultimately) Divine Self-Realization, which is necessarily the Way of the Sacrifice of the conditional (or apparently separate) self, to the degree (Most Ultimately) of Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Love-Bliss.
The second criticism I would offer relative to the conventional uses of premonitorily “seventh stage” literature in particular is directed to those who, while they may not presume Realization in their own case, nonetheless (and even dogmatically) assume (simply on the basis of the Realizer’s criticism of the attainments promoted by practitioners in the progressive context of the first six stages of life) that the progressive stages of practice are unnecessary, or even false. The premonitorily “seventh stage” texts do not represent a complete Teaching (in the sense that one can, without practice, immediately Realize That about Which they communicate), but they do criticize the limitations of the practices, experiences, and ideas of Realization proposed by fourth, fifth, and even sixth stage traditions. Thus, on the basis of fullest sixth stage Realization (even sixth stage “Sahaj Samadhi”), the stages of progress and the experiences on the Way—which some declare to be Realization Itself—are seen to be merely the evidence of immaturity, or incomplete progress, rather than finality.
The dualistic devotional idea of Realization proposed by the fourth stage traditions (and the conventional exotericism of popular religion) is a laudable aspiration for beginners, but it is not the final Realization. Similarly, the fifth stage point of view of mystical Yoga, which associates Realization with the experience of various kinds of bodily bliss, psychisms, visions, internal sounds, Yogic powers, and ascent to trance-states of mind or other subtle phenomenal regions of Cosmic Nature, while being laudable as an evolutionary development of human potential, is only a transitional view, and it must, in due course (whether sooner or later), be gone beyond. Likewise, the sixth stage point of view of inversion (to the degree of avoiding even the natural arising of phenomenal experience) is not an end in itself, but it is only the final developmental stage previous to the traditional transition to sixth stage “Sahaj Samadhi” (and, in the Way of the Heart, which I have Revealed, it, and even every trace of the exclusive, or separative, tendency, is transcended in the transition to the true seventh stage Awakening)….
Traditions, and tradition-based individuals, that speak from the point of view of one or another of the first six stages of life generally conceive of life in some problematic form. On the basis of a particular problem-conception, they tend to interpret the experiential and conceptual phenomena that tend to accompany (or even mechanically result from) the practice at their stage of life to be a solution that must be regarded as Ultimate Salvation, Liberation, Realization, or Enlightenment. For this reason, the conception of existence as a problem to be solved is one of the fundamental impediments associated with the Great Tradition as a whole.
In the long history of the Great Tradition, both ordinary and extraordinary attainments that are less than the Realization of the seventh stage of life have, in every time and place, been conceived to be Ultimate Salvation, Liberation, Realization, or Enlightenment, the Ultimate Goal or Fulfillment of life. And, in the case of most human beings, Happiness tends always to be associated with some (conditional or merely psycho-physical) state that is an experiential alternative to the present one. Truly, extraordinary states of body and mind may be attained via the psycho-physical exercise of the ego-self in the various developmental stages of life, but Happiness Itself, or Most Perfect God-Realization, or Truly Most Ultimate Enlightenment is not identical to such attainments. Indeed, Happiness (Itself) is superior to all conditional attainments and always already most prior to all problems. Happiness (Itself) is the fundamental Realization of the seventh stage of life, in Which the conventions of conditional experience and conditional knowledge have been Most Perfectly understood and Most Perfectly transcended. Happiness (Itself) is a matter of native transcendence of the limits imposed on Very Existence. It is not a matter of conventional Salvation or lesser Realization. It is not to be attained apart from the present. It is simply a matter of transcending the problem, the search, and all the limitations of conditional knowledge and conditional experience that one superimposes on the present. Thus, Happiness (Itself) is a Free exercise, or a matter of Freedom Itself. That is to say, Happiness (Itself) is not merely the Goal of life. It is the Very (or Truly Ultimate, and Inherently Perfect) Essence, Substance, Context, Condition, and Identity of life….
The traditional premonitorily “seventh stage” texts are advanced sixth stage literatures that express a few philosophical conceptions, or yet limited and incomplete intuitions, that sympathetically resemble the characteristic seventh stage Disposition (in and of Itself), and thus somehow foreshadow (rather than directly reflect, or directly express) the Truly Most Ultimate (or Transcendental, inherently Spiritual, and necessarily Divine) “Point of View”. Such texts communicate a “Point of View” in which discriminative intelligence and the effects of discriminative mind are completely discounted, and even made fun of, along with the practices that belong to the developmental stages of life and practice. However, none of the traditional texts otherwise communicate the truly and wholly seventh stage “Point of View” and Sign, not mixed with or otherwise limited by sixth stage limitations. And they never communicate the full developmental and Yogic details of the progressive seventh stage Demonstration. Nor do they ever indicate (or otherwise Demonstrate) the potential Most Ultimate (or Final) Sign of Demonstration that characterizes the seventh stage of life (Which End-Sign Is Divine Translation). Therefore, it is only by My own Work and Word that the truly seventh stage Revelation and Demonstration has Appeared, to Complete the Great Tradition of mankind.
This special class of premonitorily “seventh stage” traditional literature must be rightly understood, and the by Me Revealed seventh stage “Point of View” Itself must serve that understanding. Otherwise, the fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) “Point of View” expressed in various traditional literatures can possibly mislead the ordinary reader to presume that there is no value in meditative practices and Spiritual discipline, but that one should merely act indiscriminately (as, at least sometimes, it seems some Realizers do).
Of course, neither undisciplined nor un-Enlightened “Freedom” is the import of the premonitorily “seventh stage” texts. It is simply that, from the fully Realized sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) “Point of View”, everything previously practiced now seems useless and unnecessary (and, therefore, from the “Point of View” of the Realizer, even, in some sense, ridiculous).
When that fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) Disposition is communicated by Itself, without “Consideration” of the preparatory and progressive preliminaries that preceded it, everything that is usually presumed to belong to the religious (or would-be Enlightened or God-Realized) life is made to seem as if it is useless, worthless. Such is not factually true, but to say it is true is a characteristic expression of the attitude of Humor and Freedom that is, in one manner or another, generally typical of the sixth stage Realizers (or traditions of Realization) that show premonitory sympathies with the seventh stage of life.
As I have indicated, there are only a few traditional texts that are uniquely (or more or less exclusively) devoted to the expression (or Confession) of the fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage) “Point of View”. One of them is the Ashtavakra Gita, which arose from the ancient Vedic and Upanishadic tradition, as well as from the Saivite tradition in its nondualistic (or Advaitic) stage. The other such texts I have indicated include the Avadhoota Gita
, which is from the Dattatreya tradition, the Tripura Rahasya, from the Devi tradition, and the Lankavatara Sutra, from the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. And, along with the Lankavatara Sutra, I have included the Diamond Sutra
, the Mahayanavimsaka of Nagarjuna,
and the Sutra of Hui Neng
, because they represent the same general (Mahayana Buddhist) tradition and the same (fullest sixth stage, and premonitorily “seventh stage”) “Point of View” as the Lankavatara Sutra.
There may be other such traditional texts. However, I have “considered” numerous other traditional texts that might be added to the list of fullest sixth stage, and premonitorily “seventh stage”, literatures, and I have as yet found no other texts that completely fulfill the requirements of a uniquely (or more or less exclusively) expressed fullest sixth stage, and premonitorily “seventh stage”, text….
In the sixth stage of life, the primal Root of attention is “Located”, and the Transcendental Self-Condition is, in the Process, discriminated from Its objects, but, in the seventh stage of life, that gesture of discrimination is, not merely as a matter of principle, but inherently (and Inherently Most Perfectly), not made. As I have pointed out, in the actual transition from the sixth stage of life to the seventh stage of life, the discriminative root-tension, in which the Ultimate Self-Condition is embraced independent of objects (or by strategically separating out from objects), is Utterly and Inherently (and Inherently Most Perfectly) transcended.
Some people may expect that, based on My description (and the descriptions otherwise contained in the traditional fullest sixth stage, and premonitorily “seventh stage”, literatures), the seventh stage of life must involve some sort of fallback to the conditionally manifested world. In fact, a great deal of ill-“considered” scholarly literature strives to interpret Ultimate Wisdom as some sort of return to the conventional involvement with samsara (or the conventionally perceived and conceived world). It is true that, in the seventh stage Awakening, the Very (and Most Prior) Self, or the Unconditional (and necessarily Divine) Reality, or (to use a traditional technical term) the “Nirvanic” Self-Condition, is not discriminated from objects, or from conditionally manifested existence, or from the world of the body-mind, or from the body-mind itself, or (to use a traditional term) from “samsara”. Rather, “samsara” (or the conditionally manifested world, the conditionally manifested body-mind, and all conditionally manifested relations) is tacitly and inherently (and Inherently Most Perfectly, and Divinely) Recognized to be nothing but a transparent, or merely apparent, and un-necessary, and inherently non-binding, modification of the Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Divine (and “Nirvanic”) Self-Condition. Therefore, what is characteristic of the seventh stage of life is the (Divine) Recognizability of “samsara”, not the return (or reversion, or fallback) to “samsara”. The discriminative faculty of mind, but not Enlightenment Itself, is transcended in the transition to the seventh stage of life. Realization is Perfected (or Realized to be Inherently Most Perfect) in the Awakening to the seventh stage of life.
Some fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) Realizers have a kind of “Crazy” aspect. They behave in an unconventional manner, as a Sign of their transcendence of the discriminative mind (which is otherwise always differentiating between what is Spiritual and what is not, what is “Nirvana” and what is “samsara”, what is interior and what is exterior, what is mind and what is body, what is subtle and what is gross, and so on). Just as the unique fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) literature is, in its most typical attitude, Playfully and Humorously Free of all the conditional approaches of the earlier stages of life and practice, the biographies of such Realizers (of sixth stage “Sahaj Samadhi”) very often describe “Crazy Wisdom”. Thus, by their behavior, such individuals may refuse to take seriously the conventions, the rules, the disciplines, the point(s) of view, or any of the practices and philosophies of the earlier stages of life. Of course—the transcendence of all of that is what God-Realization (or Truth-Realization, or Reality-Realization) is, ultimately, all about! But the fullest sixth stage, and premonitorily “seventh stage”, and even “Crazy”, Realizers have not thereby ceased to be, according to their stage of life, either Enlightened or Spiritually True.
The fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) Realizers must be understood, but they cannot truly be understood from any ordinary point of view. They can be valued within a context or a tradition that values Ultimate Wisdom, but no one can truly and fully come to understand a fullest sixth stage (and premonitorily “seventh stage”) Realizer without, at least to the same degree, transcending the egoic self in the process. In the Play of the “Crazy” Realizer with devotees, devotees are confounded, but, truly, they are not dissuaded from their discipline—rather, they are Attracted toward its Ultimate Fulfillment. (And this is most especially, and most profoundly, the case in My own “Crazy” Work with devotees.)
The seventh, or Truly Most Ultimate (and Inherently Most Perfect), stage of life is characterized by a unique Disposition, but one not heretofore (even based on the premonitorily “seventh stage” evidence in the Great Tradition) understood as such in studies of traditional literature. No systematic approach to the traditions has heretofore ever been communicated based on the stages of life as I have revealed and Demonstrated them to be. Of course, there has been much scholarly examination of the philosophical, religious, and Spiritual traditions, but the seven-stage structure I have Revealed and Demonstrated has not been understood to be the connecting basis of all of it, and the seventh stage Disposition has not been understood to be the Truly Most Ultimate (and Inherently Most Perfect) stage of life, nor even a unique, distinct phase of Spiritual life, nor the distinct subject of a unique premonitory literature. Therefore, I have Revealed and Demonstrated the detailed and complete pattern of all seven of the stages of life, including, above all, the unique seventh stage of life.
My Word of Revelation and Instruction is the Fulfillment and the Completion of the Wisdom of the Great Tradition of mankind, even projected upon (or informing, and properly aligning) each and all of the first six stages of life, and all the conditions of ordinary people, even people who have no esoteric (or even in any sense truly religious) tradition. Even all My Teaching and Blessing Work is a Play with ordinary people, and even with all beings, for I am Moved to all by Heart, Awake. And, in that Play, I have Revealed the complete Process of even the seventh stage of life, even in all its esoteric Yogic and Spiritual details, whereas the traditional fullest sixth stage (and only premonitorily “seventh stage”) texts have only suggested (without yet and Most Perfectly Realizing and Demonstrating) only some of the most general or rudimentary characteristics of the seventh stage of life.
Truly Most Ultimate (and Inherently Most Perfect) Realization requires the Truly Most Ultimate Fulfillment and the Inherently Most Perfect Completion of life lived as a true and most profound Ordeal of self-transcendence. And That Truly Most Ultimate (and Inherently Most Perfect) Realization is seventh stage (Transcendental, inherently Spiritual, and necessarily Divine) Enlightenment. Such Enlightenment (or seventh stage Realization) transcends all the limitations and conventions of the discriminating (or self-contracting) mind (which conceives of independent categories, such as separate self, separate other, separate world, separate God, separate Truth, separate Reality, separate Nirvana, separate samsara, separate body, separate suffering, separate practice, separate meditation, separate thoughts, and separate Liberation or Realization). However, Inherently Most Perfect Enlightenment is not Itself merely freedom from the discriminating mind. Rather, it is Realization of the inherently unspeakable Real Condition of conditional self and conditional world.
The Way of the Heart, which is the Way of practice and of Realization Given by Me for the sake of all who will be My devotees, is the Way that is, from the beginning, based on the seventh stage Wisdom Revealed and Demonstrated by Me (in Person, at Work, and via My Word of Revelation and Instruction). My Revelatory and Instructive Word also includes critical commentaries on the Great Tradition of mankind—because the Way of the Heart presumes the entire Great Tradition of mankind as its background (or traditional foundation and inheritance). However, My devotees are not followers (or practitioners) of the Great Tradition (or any part, or parts, of the Great Tradition) itself. They simply have an affinity for the Great Tradition, based on their comprehensive study and real practice of the by Me Revealed Way of the Heart, and served by their right (critical and appreciative) understanding of the One and Entire Great Tradition (on which foundation the Way of the Heart has now appeared). Therefore, the affinity My devotees have for the Great Tradition of mankind is an exemplary affinity, which, because of their sympathetic response to My own Sign and Disposition, is also characterized by universal tolerance and universal goodwill. May even all who study My Revelatory and Instructive Word relative to the One and Entire Great Tradition of mankind be Served by My every Word (and by a truly sympathetic response to My Sign and Disposition) to manifest such right (critical and appreciative) understanding, and such true (universal) tolerance, and such true (universal) goodwill.