Shri Amir Mourad briefly explains anupaya, the supreme means of grace, and to what extent it is influential in the inner life.
Q: What is the supreme means ?
The supreme means is no-means, sambhavopaya, where consciousness beyond attributes becomes a self-sufficient light to itself. All methods and practices are only for this sake – to offer something tangible for the extroverted mind which is restless with its own compulsions so that awareness with attributes becomes a path of entry into attributeless, non-dual consciousness. From first to last – it must be understood that the way of grace is supreme, and not only supreme, but imminent in every moment. Yet, an eye which has been blind to imminence for centuries needs to heal its own sickness. From the perspective of a complex mind, the essentially simple becomes complex. From the mind of radiant simplicity, the complex is revealed to be essentially simple. The entire purpose of an upaya, a means towards self-knowledge, is to simply clear the obstacles of the mind’s own making so that the way of non-attainment, which is by nature is closer than close, is attained. This is what we mean by grace. It is not the grace of a Supreme Being, or some hidden and mysterious hand. It is the grace of the universe’s own moment to moment unfolding. And in that movement, pure intelligence emerges simultaneously with the unfolding of existence. And while it is true that grace cannot emerge through effort, it is also true that it always prefers those who are ready to receive it. If the conditioning of the mind and body of the seeker are unprepared through all kinds of mental and physical obstacles, then it is only unavoidable that one of the lesser paths must be traveled. He must then travel through one of the lesser means. By a “lesser” means, I do not necessarily mean one which is somehow more impure, but which is more indirect and suited to those for whom the psyche is still clouded by certain poisons and hindrances. Depending on the number of these poisons, the suitable path for the seeker will vary. If sambhavopaya is not suitable for him, then Saktopaya is the next best option for him. Saktopaya is s the path of shakti. In Saktopaya, self-inquiry is of the greatest importance – to see through the illusion of self and penetrating beyond the “I” thought in the mind. One technique of saktopaya is called madhyam dhatva, or centering. The yogi must place his attention with great sensitivity in the interval between two processes – two thoughts, two breaths, two words, two actions. If he can insert his attention in such a delicate but persistent way, then he will only find supreme intelligence without the illusion of self. If saktopaya does not work, then the only other alternative is anavopaya (the inferior means of focusing on external objects), which is a strictly dualistic path. In short, the more indirect the means, the more and more pronounced the path of dualism becomes.
Q: You have often talked about enlightenment as a seeing into the true nature of mind which transcends thought, to come into touch with the nature of consciousness as truly unthinkable, a reality that is beyond attachment to knowledge. Not even God (as Supreme Being) remains in the mind. Does this mean sambhavopaya is beyond reach for a Christian ?
Sambhavopaya only means the action of grace without method. Of course, it exists in Christianity, Buddhism, Qabalah, Sufism, or any other mystical tradition. It is one of the common threads that runs through all of the mystical traditions of humanity.
What sambhavopaya does not mean however is that this grace will be of the type that will be enough to destroy one’s attachment to a particular religion or philosophical system. My argument is not that genuine mystical experience has not happened in Abrahamic traditions, but only that certain individuals have created misunderstandings about the meaning of their experience because of the desire to interpret them according to one’s religious identifications. Grace is not always enough to cut through these identifications swiftly like a sword. In fact, it may take even several “awakening” experiences before such a thing takes place. Its why I admire a master like Hakuin, because he understood the value of “post-enlightenment” training, that even after awakening, one must continue to strive to integrate one’s realization to correct whatever imbalances may be preventing further growth.