6 Stages of Spiritual Evolution & 4 Practices for Freedom (41)


Lesson 41 illustrates 6 stages every spiritual seeker/finder goes through from basic discipline of empathy to ‘aham brahmasmi' (Vision of Oneness with the TOTAL as the TOTAL). Followed by 4 qualifications necessary for actualizing Self-Knowledge: Desire/Anger management, organized mind, etc.

Source of teaching: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, verse 25, 26

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5, Verse 25:

labhante Brahmanirvāṇam, ṛṣayaḥ kṣīṇakalmaṣāḥ |
chinnadvaidhā yatātmānaḥ sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ ||

Sages who are free from impurities, who are self- restrained, who are interested in the welfare of all beings, and whose doubts are dispelled attain oneness with Brahman.


  • Kṛṣṇa says jñāna-yoga is ultimate means to Self-Knowledge. But before, there are preliminary stages one has to go through.
  1. sarva bhūtahite ratāh: (STAGE OF DISCIPLINE. Living life of Values/Morals)
    • Being interested in welfare of all beings
    • Gradually expand my mind to gradually identify with other members of planet, to such extend that I should feel other's pains also. Mind becomes so sensitive/sensitized, that it feels others pain or others emotions. Thus can never again hurt other human beings. Capacity of empathy. Foundation of a healthy spiritual human being is built upon this one primary emotion: empathy.
    • Empathy is: Sense feelings of others. I share others joy, and appreciate others pain.
    • One purpose of family/marriage is to develop empathy with partner.
    • Why have children? So mind will expand enough to feel feelings of children also.
    • Why are humans able to hurt others (humans/plants/animals)? Because don't feel others, because overidentify with one's own Grossness (I am this Body, and NOT that body which I'm about to hurt).
    • Short sighted human being is one whose not aware of own or wife's pain.
    • Person of expanded mind, can sense pain of family, society but also animals and plants.
      • Such person is embodiment for ahimsa.
      • Ahimsa is supposed to be maha-vratam (great vows per Patanjali, can't be broken by time, purpose, excuse place, country, cast) of spiritual progress.
      • Ahimsa is: Not hurting others mentally, physically.
    • Summary: Ethics. Dharma. Without which moksa not possible. Why? Because mind which is unethical is agitated by Rajas (IE: all the thoughts of inappropriate-doing). Such mind is unable to concentrate on single thought, let alone meditate, nor is it attracted to spirituality.
    • Once I feel others feelings, I spend my life helping others. Niṣkāma-karma
  2. kṣīna-kalmaṣāḥ: (STAGE OF PURIFICATION)
    • Rid of mental weakness, misconceptions, mental hang-ups, impurities.
    • rāga/dveṣa: For this reason we have tapas (austerities: refrain from excess wordily pleasure).
      • Whatever use regularly, learn to be without (eg: onions, people).
      • Discover you can be happy without people.
  3. yata-ātmānaḥ: (STAGE OF SELF-ENQUIRY. Initiative for spiritual growth)
    • Develop interest in spirituality (which itself is result of puṇyam), I have to WORK for spiritual growth.
    • According to Vedanta, spiritual growth or Liberation is not according to God's will, but Liberation is our own free will.
      • God doesn't decide if I should get mokṣa or not.
      • If decides, then God is partial. Gives mokṣa to some, not to others.
      • As far as Gods blessing are concerned, mokṣa is available for all.
      • Whether willing to make use of God's grace, is the question. Making use of God's grace is OUR freedom.
        • EG: Sunlight/water/soil provided. Can plant seed or starve.
      • Kṛṣṇa in CH 9, 29 says: samaḥ aham sarva-bhūteṣu na me dveṣyaḥ asti na priyaḥ (My grace is uniformly available for all)
      • Tapping Lords Grace is OUR freedom.
    • SUMMARY:
      • Those people who put effort in right direction, or develop necessary discipline, are ones who develop necessary qualifications for moksa. Take initiative.
        • EG: Viveka doesn't happen. It is done by effort!
      • (1) Acquiring qualifications by effort and (2) working for Self-Knowledge by seeking for it through effort.
        • EG: sādhana-catuṣtaya (Tattva Bodha), attend class, etc.
      • Advice: For saving one family, sacrifice a member. For saving village, sacrifice one family. For saving the nation, sacrifice one village. For sake of moksa, must be prepared to sacrifice EVERYTHING.
      • Favorite quote of lazy spiritualists: Everything is in His hands!
  4. rṣayaḥ: (STAGE OF GAINING KNOWLEDGE. Jñāni)
    • Once Stage 1-3 successful, qualifies one gaining name: ṛṣi. (In context of one who knows one's nature, then ṛṣi word is synonymous with jñāni).
    • √ṛṣ: To know. (One who knows)
      • You are ṛṣi if have knowledge in certain subject matter pertaining to world or spirituality. Hence this word of rishi (correct is: ṛṣi) is nothing mystical as often portrayed. An ordinary Sanskrit word.
    • If person doesn't have Knowledge… but robe, knotted hair, bring eyes, then pseudo-ṛṣi.
  5. chinna-dvaidhāḥ: (STAGE OF GAINING CONVICTION. Freedom from doubts. When all doubts are removed, I am called: chinna-dvaidāḥ)
    • Knowledge is beneficial only when it's free from all doubt.
    • Doubtful knowledge is as good as ignorance.
    • Self-Knowledge is incomplete if all doubts are not cleared: Conviction (niścaya).
    • Solution: Self-Knowledge must be converted to niścaya-jñānam.
      • How? Removing all doubts by means of RAISING Q&A.
        • Ask own Intellect/heart: Am I convinced by this knowledge?
        • EG 1: “I am immortal”: Am I totally convinced that I'm immortal? Do I believe/accept my immortality?
        • EG 2: “Citānanda rūpa shivoham shivoham” (I am cit-ānanda in form of Shiva): Another part says “I am a small insignificant person in this world”.
        • EG 3: “Lord that you worship is non-different from you.”
        • EG 4: This world you experience is less real then YOURSELF. You are the ultimate reality, world is not as real > Do I accept this?
    • Removal of doubt: mananam.
  6. brahma-nirvāṇam (FINAL STAGE OF MERGER INTO BRAHMAN As Brahman)
    • Once person becomes chinna-dvaidhāḥ: sthira-prajñaḥ (CH2) > brahma nirvanam labhante (such people have attained “Oneness with Brahman”, “Merged with Brahman”).
    • “Attain” does NOT mean merging with Brahman physically, else it means Brahman is elsewhere.
    • Brahman is all pervading principle, thus “merger into Brahman” means: Dropping notion/misconception (born out of ignorance) that I am away from Brahman.
    • Merger: Dropping ignorance caused notion of DISTANCE.

6 Stages explained further in next verse…

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5, Verse 26:

kāmakrodhaviyuktānāṃ yatīnāṃ yatacetasām |
abhito Brahmanirvāṇaṃ vartate viditātmanām ||

Oneness with Brahman takes place both (here and hereafter) for the self-restrained ones who are free from desire and anger, whose minds are restrained, and who have known the Atma.


  • Same idea of previous verse repeated for clarity.
  1. kāma-krodha-viyuktānām: (Desire / Anger Management)
    • Kāma: Desire for acquisition.
    • Krodhaḥ: Anger caused by
      1. Obstacle in acquiring things. EG: You want to talk to your friend who haven't seen for 2 years, and suddenly your work college comes and starts talking to you. You talk with college out of politeness, but keep getting agitated the longer you talk. Because college is an obstacle keeping you from fulfilling your desire (kāma) of talking to a long-time friend standing in the distance.
      2. Loss of things acquired. EG: He/she left me! How dare they! I AM special! Who would possible leave this SPECIAL ego!
    • Kāma leads to Krodhaḥ:
      • Analysed in 3.37: This desire, this anger, born of raja guṇa, is a glutton and great sinner. Know it to be the enemy in this world.
    • HOW TO MANAGE kāma/krodha? 
      • My happiness doesn't depend on what I have, but what I am. Thus always focus on what I am, and NOT what I have.
        • Else kāma only leads to more acquisition and preservation. And will have no time for spirituality and brain consumed with world things.
      • vairagyam: dispassion towards things automatically reduces. How? viveka (discrimination A from B). Inquiry into nature of object.
  2. yata-cetasām:
    • Those who have integrated/organized their mind. Organized personality.
    • Metaphor: Body compared to car. Sense organs = wheels. Mind = steering. Intellect = driver.
      • Only if all 4 are healthy, then one can reach destination, smoothly, joyfully and without resistance.
      • Thus keep mind emotions balanced, intellect sharp, body fit. And available for use of highest purpose: Tattva Viveka (Discriminating ātman (real-unchanging) / anātman (unreal-changing)).
  3. yatīnām: (Spirituality is PRIORITY)
    • One should become a sannyāsī.
    • Olden days sannyāsī: Exclusive live devoted for concentrated pursuit of scriptural study. No responsibility in life.
    • Modern: Life totally devoted to scriptural study. Attending to family/duties. But top priority is mokṣa, then can call self sannyāsī.
    • Incorrect: spirituality accommodates my life priority (life based on putting one's likes/dislikes 1st). Correct: life accommodates my spirituality priority.
  4. vidita-ātmanām:
    • Jñāna-Yoga: Systematic and consistent study of Vedanta, for length of time, under guidance of competent āchārya. Remember!
      • Whoever does this = sannyāsī.
      • This systematic study leads to CLEAR KNOWLEDGE.
      • This kind of jñāni is called: viditāh ātmā
      • As result of jñānam… jñāni have: brahma-nirvāṇam. (merger into Brahman: not physical, but intellectual/cognitive merger, being: There is no distance between ME and Brahman: aham brahma asmi)
      • abhitaḥ: This merger is “both ways”. Meaning Oneness is before death, and same Oneness continues after death.
        • Oneness before death: jīvan muktiḥ
        • Oneness after death: videha muktiḥ
    • Śāstra eg: Pot space merging into total space. Imagine pot. There is space in pot and outside pot. When gain jñānam, I know the pot space is always One and same with Total space. Pot space can't ever be divided or separated from total space.
      • Pot space one with total, while pot is Ok.
      • Pot space still one with total, at destruction of the pot.
      • Presence of pot doesn't create division in space. Absence of pot doesn't bring space together. It was ONE indivisible space before and after.
      • Similarly I am one indivisible Consciousness in presence of body, and one indivisible all pervading Consciousness after fall of body.


Keywords: ananda, anatma, atma, cetasam, citananda, dvaida, jnanam, jnani, kama, Krodha, nirvanam, niscaya, nishcaya, rishi, rsaya, rshaya, rsi, yatinam, abhita, atmana, atmanam, bhutahite rata, catushtaya, catustaya, dvesa, dvesha, jivan mukti, jnana, ksina-kalmasa, moksa, moksha, punya, raga, sadhana, sannyasi, sastra, shastra, videha mukti, vidita

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching is given to Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 19 March, 2019

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